Notebook: Marshall still not up to speed

Brandon Marshall (Ed Szczepanski/USA TODAY)

In our Tuesday notebook, Brandon Marshall says he's still not in playing shape, Aaron Kromer discusses J'Marcus Webb and the entire offensive line, the injury report and more.

Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall has had three hip surgeries during his career. The most recent came this offseason, when he had his hip scoped to clear out debris. As a result, he missed almost all of the team's offseason programs and was limited throughout training camp and the preseason.

He said today that recovering from the hip surgery has put him behind in terms of his preparation for the 2013 season.

"It's one of those things where I'm just trying to get healthy for Week 1," Marshall said. "So 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."

Marshall said it's not about pain tolerance, as the hip is healed, but it's about conditioning and learning his role in the new offense.

"I think it's more of a conditioning [issue]," he said. "So 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. So we'll see."

This is the first time Marshall has mentioned anything about being rushed back into action or that some believe he should be further healed. We've seen in the past Marshall turn on his team when he feels mistreated, although that's not something Marc Trestman is worried about.

"I know this: Brandon is working his tail off to try to get himself ready," Trestman said. "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's been days that haven't gone so well for him and then he'll bounce back.

"I don't know how he feels. I know he's trying to push himself through. I know he's doing everything he can to try and get himself ready."

Yet obviously, he's not where he needs or wants to be. Jay Cutler sees it as well.

"Yeah, you can see it. Conditioning-wise he's a little behind," said Cutler. "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."

The Bears don't play again until next Sunday, which gives Marshall 16 days of rest between last Friday and the regular season opener. The hope is that he'll be close to 100 percent once the Bears host the Bengals in Week 1.

"I think once we start getting into a routine in game week and we shorten some of these reps, we'll really figure out exactly what routes we want him on and where we want him on the field," Cutler said. "Hopefully things will sharpen up for his hip for him and he'll be able to make it go."

Rookie Receiver on the Rise

Marquess Wilson has progressively raised his level of play in nearly every practice and game since rookie minicamp. He started training camp with the third team and is now getting reps with the first team. His development has been rapid.

"It came down to [receivers] coach [Mike] Groh grooming him and growing him up in the offense and him taking ownership in himself and being the best that he can be," Marshall said. "We have a great locker room, so he's in the right place. Down to the littlest things, everybody is working with him. Everybody sees the potential. I think he's going to be really good."

Cutler is also growing in confidence with the 20-year-old rookie.

"I think things come very naturally to him as a player, as a receiver," said Cutler. "Whenever we throw him the ball, he catches it, and that's what you want to see in a receiver. So we'll steadily bring him along and he'll be a contributor for us."

This year's seventh-round draft pick, Wilson is now in a good position to make the 53-man roster.

"Marquess has shown up in games," said coordinator Aaron Kromer. "He knew coming in here that he had to do everything right to have a chance to make the team and he's done a lot of things right."

Noncommittal

Despite the fact rookie offensive linemen Jordan Mills and Kyle Long have started the last two preseason games, and have played very well in both contests, the coaching staff isn't ready to officially name them starters.

"We're not ready to name starters, yet. We're still battling," Kromer said. "Those two have done a good job of handling the pressure. By far, they're not perfect, but they've handled the pressure and done a solid job in the games."

Yet, for all intents and purposes, this week is a formality. The Long and Mills will start the first week of the season as the starters on the right side of the line, whether Bears coaches want to announce it now or a week from now.

"Right now we're going to wait the week out and see how it goes," Trestman said yesterday. "I am not going to hide from the fact that they did very well last week and have continued to improve. I'm just not ready to go the distance on exactly what we are going to do as we move forward here. I can stand up here confidently and say they played well."

QB Tryouts on Thursday

The Bears reached an injury settlement with QB Matt Blanchard, who fractured his finger in the second preseason contest. He cannot be re-signed until Week 10 and he cannot be placed on the practice squad. Chicago's roster is now at 75.

In the preseason finale on Thursday against the Cleveland Browns, the Bears will sit Cutler and backup Josh McCown. Running the offense will be Jordan Palmer and Trent Edwards. With Blanchard out of the picture, this is a tryout for these two veterans to be the club's emergency quarterback during the regular season.

"The No. 1 thing when you come into situations like this is [to] have enough of an understanding of the offense," Trestman said. "They have both worked really hard. They spent a lot of time with [quarterback coach] Matt Cavanaugh getting ready, learning the offense, putting a game plan together that would efficiently run with very minimal reps as you might expect. But they've been extremely professional.

"They're both really smart guys and knowledgeable. They've practiced well. They really have, and efficiently running the offense and that's really what we want to see is will they go out and take care of the football and sort of gain the confidence of the players and the coaches just by the way they're demeanor on the field and the way they handle themselves. I expect that they're going to do well. I do."

Offense Installed

The Bears dominated in the first half against the Oakland Raiders last week, racking up 27 unanswered points to start the contest. The performance had many believing the offense has finally turned the corner.

"We're headed in the right direction," said Cutler. "Coach Trestman and Kromer and all of the guys have done a good job of piling a lot of stuff on us and then limiting it back and trying to figure out what we're good at and what we can be successful at during the regular season. It's been fun to see the progress the guys have made and how hard they have worked and studied throughout the offseason."

And what you see is what you get, as at this point there really isn't any more playbook to install.

"I think we've got a bulk of the offense in," Trestman said. "We'll continue to grow, because that's what normally happens with all offenses in the National Football Leauge — you start working in a certain direction. You kind of pick up on variations and you start thinking about things you could do with the framework and foundation that you have. So I would assume that we'll continue to evolve as we go on.

"That doesn't mean we won't be doing things well when we start. We want to do things well when we start. That's what most offenses do, they evolve in certain directions — or there's personnel grouping that become more prominent because players start stepping up or ascending. They're moving people around. So those are all good things."

Webb Still Struggling

J'Marcus Webb, who is in a fight for his job, was horrible in last week's contest, and not just as a blocker. It was the mental mistakes, which have plagued him throughout his career, that killed Webb. He had two false starts and a holding penalty, which doesn't bode well for his chances at making this year's roster.

"He's had a couple penalties. He's got to eliminate them. That's his responsibility and he's working on it," Kromer said. "Every game is a big game, every evaluation, every meeting he goes to. Every meeting everyone goes to in that room is a big evaluation. Do they know what to do? Do they know the answers to the test when they get out here? Do they show that they know the answers to the test? So everyday is a big day for those guys."

Injury Report

Henry Melton, who began a running program yesterday in his recovery from a concussion, continued running today. Earl Bennett (concussion) also began a running program, which is great news for both players.

Jonathan Scott (knee) worked out on the side as well and Armando Allen (hamstring) went full speed in practice. Patrick Mannelly practiced for the second straight day, while D.J. Williams (calf) was dressed for practice but was limited.

"Each and every day [Williams] gets a little better, and we'll know a lot more at the beginning of next week. He's got four or five days before our first day of practice on Monday. So we'll see how it is at that point in time."

CB Zack Bowman (hamstring) and RB Harvey Unga (ribs) sat out the session.


Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his third season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.

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