Early this morning, Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall sent out a message on his Twitter page saying he's been cleared by doctors to begin practicing with his teammates. Today's practice, the final OTA session of 2013 open to the media, saw Marshall working out in full during positional drills, although he was very limited during the team segments. It was his first practice of the entire offseason.
"I'm feeling good," Marshall said. "It's just part of the process where you get a chance to come out and just do a little bit of individual, a couple of plays here and there, and you just build on that. I'm just thankful to be back on the field with my guys."
Marshall says he's fully recovered from February hip surgery, which he described as a minor scope.
"I'm 100 percent now. I'm ready to go," he said. "Before we left for the break, just after we did all of that stuff, [there was] a little soreness. But now, taking that week off gave me a chance to heal a little bit more and there's nothing there."
This isn't a new problem for Marshall, who had hip scoped on two occasions previous to this year.
"It's been affecting me for two years," he said. "It was one of those things where I thought maybe it was just some training or some strength problems or some flexibility problems. But when we went in there they saw a little something and cleaned it up. It was one of those things where after a lot of pounding it tightened up on me, got a little weak, so now I'm just thankful that we caught it in time and cleaned it out."
Despite how good he feels now, Marshall admitted to some concern about his hip becoming a long-term issue.
"Yeah, absolutely. It's football," he said. "When I'm done, it's going to be one of those things where I'm going to have to stay on it. But it's just a scope. But I have to be smart, continue just to rehab throughout the season and throughout the rest of my career. But I'm just thankful that we caught it and it's in a place where it's a non-weight bearing part of the bone, and that's good."
What's amazing is that Marshall was able to break Bears franchise records last year in both receptions (118) and receiving yards (1,508) in spite of the pain in his hip. With him now fully healthy, it stands to reason he should be even better this season.
"Yes, I'm excited to see what I can do fully healthy and also there are some little things that I've been watching on film of myself," he said. "Every year you get smarter, you get better, and I think being healthy and a little bit smarter this year, it's going to be a productive year for me helping the offense out."
Before today, Marshall has been nothing more than a cheerleader throughout organized team activities, which has given the remaining receivers an opportunity to gain valuable reps with the first team. With the addition of tight end Martellus Bennett, and a new offensive-minded head coach in Marc Trestman, Marshall may not be targeted as much as he was in 2012, where the lack of reliable options on a stale offense resulted in Jay Cutler targeting him 194 times, second most in the league.
"I don't know [if my targets will drop]," he said. "We've got [Bennett], a running game; I really like it. So I'm sure Matt [Forte] is going to be the center of our offense. So I don't know. I may have the same amount of targets; I may not. But my only goal is to win. I‘d be lying if I said I don't want to be productive, that I don't want to be up there with the best. But at the end of the day if we don't win, none of us will be here. The only thing I'm excited about is playing my part."
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. 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.