Cutler, Marshall renew chemistry in OTAs
LAKE FOREST – Bears receiver Brandon Marshall lined up across from cornerback Jonathan Wilhite on Wednesday and quickly went to work.
Marshall (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) ran a deep out route toward the sideline as Wilhite (5-11, 185) tried to keep pace. As teammates watched the one-on-one drill, Marshall sprinted about 15 yards downfield and turned 90 degrees to the right.
By the time Marshall looked up, Jay Cutler’s pass was arriving.
If the Bears' offense looks this good in May, how will it look come September?
“No telling,” Marshall said with a smile afterward at Halas Hall.
The Bears wrapped up their second day of organized team activities, which offered media members their first glimpse of veterans in uniform since the end of last season. The team will conduct 10 OTA practices before its veteran minicamp June 12-14.
Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte remained a no-show because of a lingering contract dispute, while other players sat out drills because of injuries, including Brian Urlacher, Gabe Carimi, Kellen Davis, Patrick Mannelly and Johnny Knox.
Yet it was Marshall’s arrival that had Cutler in such a good mood after the session. Cutler became a Pro Bowl quarterback with Marshall in Denver in 2008.
“He’s a guy that I’ve missed,” said Cutler, who has lobbied the Bears for a big-bodied receiver for years. “It’s good having him back. He’s a little bit different guy than he was in Denver, in a good way. He’s a really good influence for those younger guys.”
Likewise, Marshall said, Cutler was a good influence on his game.
“I think we’re two guys who are really passionate about the game, grew up playing ball our whole life, and we really, truly love the game,” Marshall said. “That’s one of the reasons why [we connect].
“But I think the most important thing is we see the field the same. What I mean by that is, a lot of times, you have to wing it out there, and we seem to be on the same page when we do that. That’s what the great ones do: See the field the same way.”
That type of chemistry proved elusive in recent seasons, with Cutler memorably relaying a profane message for ex-quarterbacks coach Shane Day to deliver to ex-offensive coordinator Mike Martz during a game on national TV in 2011.
The Bears parted ways with Martz and Day during the offseason, promoting Mike Tice to offensive coordinator and hiring Jeremy Bates to be quarterbacks coach. Bates coached Cutler in Denver and was on the field for Wednesday’s practice.
“I think Jeremy has a really good feel of what I like to do and what I don’t like to do,” Cutler said. “There’s plays out here today that I told him, ‘I don’t like them. Let’s think about getting rid of them.’ He’s fine with that.
“It’s a give and take. That’s a breath of fresh air around here, being able to give ideas, and everyone giving ideas, and let’s pick the best ones that work for everybody.”
It’s a strategy that worked in Denver, where the Broncos averaged 395.8 yards of offense per game in 2008 to trail only the New Orleans Saints.
This time, Marshall said, he and Cutler could be even better.
“In 2008, we finished No. 2 in offense, and everyone said we were really successful, and even we walk around sometimes saying it,” Marshall said. “But when I look at film now, I think we were terrible, and I say that humbly. We were just young and immature out there on the field, not understanding the big picture of the offense and the game itself.
“To see where we’re at now, where our football mind is now, it’s going to be really dangerous. I’m excited to really fall into this offense with a new mind.”
If you have any technical difficulties, either with your username and password or with the payment options, please contact us by e-mail at email@example.com