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Bears trying for better balance in offense

August 27, 2013

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The balance sought all training camp by the Chicago Bears offense came against Oakland in the third preseason game.

Yet quarterback Jay Cutler believes it can be even better.

So does wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

Marshall said on Tuesday his play is helping to hold the offense back and the Pro Bowl receiver believes he isn’t physically where he needs to be after offseason hip surgery.

“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 but we’ll see.”

Marshall received rest throughout training camp and in practices leading up to the preseason games.

“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,” he said. “So it’s a little frustrating not being where I want to be right now and maybe being pushed a little.”

If Marshall is getting pressure, it doesn’t seem to be coming from coach Marc Trestman.

“I know this: Brandon is working his tail off to try to get himself ready,” Trestman said, adding, “He feels a sense of urgency because the season is 10 days away. ... I know he’s doing everything he can to try and get himself ready.”

Cutler suggested Marshall may have simply been feeling down for dropping a few passes in the most recent preseason game.

The Bears’ offense looked efficient with Alshon Jeffery making seven catches against Oakland.

“It’s B,” Cutler 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.

Cutler and Marshall have to wait again until the regular-season opener because the Bears plan to play few, if any, starters against Cleveland on Thursday.

While Cutler does think Marshall was down a bit over his dropped passes, the hip does seem to have caused a problem.

“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.”

Knowing the offense and fitting into it hasn’t been a problem for Marshall, although he suggested some of his missed reps may have hurt the offense’s timing.

“I know where I’m supposed to line up,” he said. “Now it’s just getting a feel for it and having more experience in the offense.”

Marshall caught a team-record 118 passes for 1,508 yards last year. The goal is to vary the attack now.

A concussion suffered by wide receiver Earl Bennett has also contributed to early problems in the passing attack. Bennett would be on the field in three- or four-receiver sets.

Bennett has been out since Aug. 2 and ran some at Tuesday’s practice without actually taking part in the practice.

“Hopefully we get him back soon,” Trestman said. “Concussions get a little scary. There’s a lot of attention on those. We’ve just got to take it day by day.

“When he comes back, he’ll be an immediate playmaker for us.”

Notes: The Bears reached an injury settlement with quarterback Matt Blanchard, who suffered a fractured left hand. He was then waived. It’s possible Blanchard could return to the practice squad. ... Trestman said tackle Jonathan Scott has started to run again after a knee injury. ... Defensive tackle Henry Melton (concussion) and linebacker D.J. Williams (calf) are still day to day and both have been running but not participating in scrimmages.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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