AL HAMNIK: Bears' Marshall thrilled to share receiving spotlight this time around

2013-08-05T18:15:00Z 2013-08-06T14:58:07Z AL HAMNIK: Bears' Marshall thrilled to share receiving spotlight this time aroundAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
August 05, 2013 6:15 pm  • 

BOURBONNAIS | Brandon Marshall loves the spotlight like Steven Spielberg loves aliens.

But last season was a bit too much as the Bears' over-used wide receiver provided 40 percent of the offense with 118 receptions — 74 more than No. 2 target Matt Forte.

New coach Marc Trestman hopes to spread the football around so much, other receivers won't need to be introduced to Jay Cutler when he calls their number.

The thought of sharing the offensive load with newly-acquired Martellus Bennett, a healthy Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett is an absolute adrenaline rush for Marshall.

"It's going to be a work in progress throughout the next few years to catch up with some of the great offenses around the league," Marshall said. "But I'm shocked to see where we're at today.

"We're putting in the extra work and Jay's really leading us, holding us accountable. That's the reason why we're making big jumps every single day."

Cases of spotlight burn should be a thing of the past.

Forte is a running back, which left Earl Bennett with the second most receptions among receivers at 29.

That will change. It has to.

"Our No. 1 goal is to be the best receiving group in the league," Marshall said. "We didn't get a lot of credit last season. But (defenses) are going to have to play fair. There's no lid on any of us."

Last season, Marshall constantly had to fight through double- and triple-teams. He seldom complained but it wore on him physically and emotionally.

Try it now. He dares you.

"It wasn't all because of my ability, but because other guys were not in position whether it was the player's fault or the coach's," Marshall said.

"Seeing guys get open now and everyone involved is exciting for all of us on both sides of the ball."

The offense looks formidable in training camp with Cutler connecting almost at will with his receivers. But let's wait until there's tackling like this Friday night's preseason game in Carolina.

"If we were tackling in practice right now, I'd probably be going to the NBA because I wouldn't be playing this game," Marshall chuckled. "I tried that during the lockout but it didn't go too well. I'd shoot a 3 and it was an airball, so I said: 'Let me stick to football.'"

Marshall's offseason hip surgery was successful, but Trestman continues to occasionally hold him out of practice.

"What I focused on this year is getting stronger, especially in my hip and waist-down area," Marshall said. "I'm lean like I was in college. I'm at 6.3 percent body fat and ready to rock and roll."

If Marshall's spotlight time is considerably less this season, that's fine with him. And if colorful tight end Martellus Bennett becomes the new favorite target of Cutler's, that's cool as well.

There will be no pouting or frowning by No. 15.

"We're striving to become a unit," Marshall said. "Look out, man, we're comin'."

Now, if the defense can dig in ... mercy.

 

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

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