If you’re looking for controversy and histrionics from your football team, you’re better off spending time in the Meadowlands with the New York Jets and Rex Ryan, because you won’t find them with the Chicago Bears. Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall returned to practice after his four-day team-approved “vacation” and declared it to be “go time.”
Marshall raised eyebrows last week when he told reporters that not only was he struggling to find his place in head coach Marc Trestman’s new offense, but his surgically repaired hip wasn’t fully recovered. Twitter’s feathers went from rustled to ablaze when Marshall’s excused absence was revealed the very next day.
Many jumped the gun to assume that the two events were related. Not so. Marshall had a pre-planned visit to his surgeon to have that troublesome hip evaluated. The result should make Bears fans feel pretty good about the team’s prospects.
“Structurally, everything is good,” Marshall told reporters after Monday’s practice. “The joint is in amazing shape, so that’s exciting.”
Marshall admitted his previous comments reflected frustration at not yet feeling one hundred percent. And with the season opener fast approaching, he was unsure if he’d be ready to play at his own absurdly high standards.
“It’s tough playing at a high level, and when you have a surgery it’s tough to get back to that level. We have a lot of amazing things going on here on the field and off the field, and I want to be a part of it,” Marshall said. “So at times it can be frustrating, but we made it to week one, and that’s a positive thing.”
General Manager Phil Emery took things a step further, declaring Marshall to be a superior player to the one who set all-time team records for catches and receiving yards in 2012.
“I see a guy who is better than he was last year,” Emery said. “I see a guy that’s more dynamic. I see a guy that’s better getting in and out of his breaks. I see a stronger player.”
Maybe Emery doesn’t have as good of a view at practice as you might expect for a G.M. But if Marshall is healthy enough to resume his role as the Bears’ version of Calvin Johnson, his prediction may prove to be correct thanks to a new offense that should relieve some pressure. With Trestman’s quick-strike passing attack, teams should find it much more difficult to focus all their attention on Marshall.
And speaking of that offense, what was all that stuff about Marshall “searching for his place” in it? Is he finding the lines of communication closed between himself and his coach and G.M.?
“Coach Trestman has been great,” Marshall said. "Phil Emery has been great. We’ve sat down plenty of times to talk about what we need to do to get to this week. So, they’ve been really helpful. But now it’s go time.”
Well, Sunday at noon, Central is “go time” to be specific. But Emery agreed that there are no issues between his staff and their most dominant offensive weapon.
“Obviously he was a little frustrated with where he was at, and he shared that with myself, and those are conversations we have had,” Emery said. " But hey, that’s just an athlete wanting to be elite, wanting to the best at his game. His goal is to be the best wide receiver in the NFL on the best team. I have no problem with those goals.”
Neither do Bears fans.
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