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updated: 9/11/2012 9:42 PM

With these receivers, it's a new game for Bears

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  • Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall celebrates Sunday's victory over the Indianapolis Colts at Soldier Field.

      Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall celebrates Sunday's victory over the Indianapolis Colts at Soldier Field.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 

One of the many problems the Bears have encountered in losing six of their last seven games against the Packers is having their receivers manhandled at the line of scrimmage by the physical Green Bay defensive backs.

That should be less of a problem going forward with the presence of 6-foot-4, 230-pound Brandon Marshall and 6-3, 216-pound Alshon Jeffery.

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But the Packers still will try to jam up Bears receivers at the line of scrimmage to disrupt the rhythm of their routes with quarterback Jay Cutler.

"Good luck," Cutler said. "We've got some dudes that, if you're going to get up in our face even our speed guys are going to get around them, and our big guys are going to throw and go.

"We invite press coverage. We invite man-to-man. And if we get in that type of game, our guys outside have to make some plays for us."

Marshall (119 yards on 9 catches) and Jeffery combined last week for 12 catches, 199 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Marshall, who by the way says he's 6-5, doesn't mind physical matchups, even against cornerbacks such as the Packers' Tramon Williams (5-11, 191), Jarrett Bush (6-foot, 200), Sam Shields (5-11, 184) and even 6-1, 202-pound safety Charles Woodson, a former Pro Bowl cornerback who still plays corner in nickel situations.

"I'm 6-5, 230," Marshall said. "There aren't too many DBs walking around that big. If they want to get physical, I do welcome that. You look at Williams and Shields over there and even Woodson, when he's down there. They like to mix it up a lot."

The Bears list Marshall at 6-4, but he believes he's getting the short end of the stick, even though he doesn't want to make a big deal of it.

"At the combine, they had me at 6-4 and three-quarters," Marshall said. "I didn't want to start being a headache that soon, so I just kind of let them have it. I think I'm 6-5. I walk around telling everyone I'm 6-5. But I had to at least get to the NFL before I started giving everyone headaches."

The only headaches Marshall is causing so far are to opponents such as Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who is well aware of the Bears' new-look offense.

"Obviously with the production that Marshall had in the first game and the relationship that Marshall and Cutler have from their past in Denver, you can see they got off the way they wanted to," McCarthy said. "I like the receiver group. I think it's definitely improved."

Marshall's 9-catch opener has him on pace to equal Marvin Harrison's NFL single-season record of 144 receptions, a number the Bears' wideout is aware of and says he has been for some time.

"My goal was never just to make it to the NFL," Marshall said, "it was to try to be one of the best when I made it. So, going back to my rookie year, I knew some of the receiver records, whether it's franchise or the NFL.

"To achieve that, you have to have awareness of where you're at or what's already out there. I'm familiar with that.

"I don't know if that can ever be done. But it's something to work towards when you're catching (balls from the) the JUGS (machine) before practice or getting some extra work. You think of some of those things to keep you going."

Maintaining that pace is almost impossible. Cutler targeted Marshall 15 times Sunday, but that's not going to happen every week.

"Seems like a lot, doesn't it?" Cutler said when informed that over the course of a 16-game schedule that would be 240 targets of Marshall.

"If we complete 9, I'll take that, I guess. But 15 times a game? It's not going to happen. It's just not. There are going to be teams that take him away. We have to go to other guys; we have to run the ball.

"That (Colts) game, they said, 'Hey, we're going to play man, and you guys are going to have to beat us through the air.' And I guess we did."

rlegere@dailyherald.com

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