Bears' Marshall says he's still feeling effects of surgery
It's not as if Bears go-to wide receiver Brandon Marshall hit the panic button Tuesday afternoon at Halas Hall.
But he did sound alarmed regarding his own readiness to contribute to the offense in Week 1.
"I'm still trying to figure out my role and my place in this offense," said Marshall, who caught a franchise-record 118 passes last season but dropped all 3 of the throws directed toward him in last week's preseason game. "I'm trying to get healthy, and we'll see where it takes us. It's still early."
It really isn't early, considering quarterback Jay Cutler will not play in Friday's final preseason game, and neither will most of the starters, Marshall included.
Marshall is confident he's exactly where he needs to be as far as learning the new offense of coach Marc Trestman and coordinator Aaron Kromer. But he didn't sound nearly as confident in his surgical hip that kept him out of most off-season activities and necessitated occasional days off during training camp.
"Mentally, as far as understanding plays, I know where I'm supposed to be," he said. "I know where I'm supposed to line up. Now it's just getting a feel for it and having more experience in the offense."
Marshall did not play in the preseason opener but had 4 catches in the second game, when he was targeted five times by Cutler, who did not direct a pass to any other receiver in that game.
Marshall still doesn't feel he's had enough preseason reps.
"I'm just trying to get healthy for Week 1," he said. "You've got to have a game plan coming off surgery, a third hip surgery. So yeah, I'm not where I want to be right now. It's a little frustrating."
In last week's third preseason game, the Bears' offense ran smoothly, albeit against a weak Raiders team, scoring on each of its first four possessions. But Marshall was conspicuously absent. He said the end result was encouraging, "for the offense; not for me. I had about 10 drops. For myself; mentally, physically, we need to pick it up a little more."
Marshall said he's not all the way back from his surgery and maybe not as far along as others expect him to be.
"I think it's more conditioning," he said. "It's one of those things where you may be rushed a little bit, and some people might think I need to be farther on than where I am. So it's a little frustrating not being where I want to be right now, and maybe being pushed a little bit."
Cutler said there's no need to talk Marshall off the ledge yet.
"It's 'B'," the quarterback said. "He's going to take it hard for a couple of days, and then he'll snap out of it, and he'll be the guy we need next week. This week we don't need him, so he can stay on the ledge for a couple more days and then come back next week."
Cutler did, however, agree that his favorite receiver is still dealing with issues concerning his hip.
"Yeah, you can see it," Cutler said. "Conditioning-wise, he's a little behind. He knows where to be. It's just a matter of him getting out there and pushing his hip through things when it gets tight a little bit. Hopefully things will sharpen up for his hip for him and he'll be able to make it go."
Trestman believes Marshall is still the main man in the Bears' passing game — as long as he's healthy.
"Brandon, if he plays every week, is going to have a lot of catches and certainly be instrumental in the success of our offense and ultimately the success of our football team," Trestman said. "I don't see that changing."
But questions remain. Marshall has caught more than 80 passes in six straight seasons and more than 100 in four of them. He's gone over 1,000 yards six straight seasons and over 1,200 in four of them. But can he maintain the durability that has allowed him to miss just five games in seven years?
Said Trestman, "I know this: Brandon is working his tail off to try to get himself ready. He feels a sense of urgency because the season is 10 days away. He's a highly competitive man; an elite player.
"He does have those moments where he can practice and work at a very high level. There have been days that haven't gone so well for him, and then he'll bounce back. I know he's trying to push himself through. I know he's doing everything he can to get himself ready."
But will that be enough by Sept. 8?
• Follow Bob's NFL reports on Twitter @BobLeGere, and check out his Bear Essentials blog at dailyherald.com/sports.
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