True to his nature, Bears wide receiver Josh Morgan put his teammate before himself.
“I’m praying for Brandon to get healthy and heal fast,” Morgan said of Brandon Marshall, who is out for the season after suffering broken ribs and a punctured lung against the Cowboys last week.
But the reality is that Marshall’s absence could give Morgan a better opportunity as the Bears’ No. 3 receiver. The return of Marquess Wilson in Week 10 dropped Morgan further down the depth chart. The seven-year veteran played just three snaps against the Buccaneers and 15 against the Lions. With Marshall injured in the second quarter against the Cowboys, Morgan played 46 snaps. He was targeted four times, with one catch for eight yards.
He’s used to playing more. Morgan has had 44 or more receptions three times in his NFL career — including 52 for 527 yards and three touchdowns in 2009 and 44 catches for 698 yards and two touchdowns in 2010 with the 49ers.
But being the No. 3 receiver in a Jay Cutler offense is a thankless job. The average No. 3 receiver in the NFL has 26 receptions for 330 yards and two touchdowns this season. Morgan has seven catches for 55 yards and one touchdown.
“It’s very difficult, especially when you’re used to having a bigger role and a bigger impact on the game,” Morgan said. “But sometimes you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do, even if they’re not asking you to do much.
“Of course I want to be out there every play like I used to be. Of course I want to get six or seven balls thrown my way a game. Of course I want to be that impact player and have that effect on my team like I used to. But at the same time, that’s not always what’s expected of you. You’ve got to know your role and make an impact that way.
“It’s hard, but it’s what you’ve got to do. It’s part of being a pro.”
Morgan has worked diligently to learn the Bears’ offense and build a rapport with Jay Cutler. The latter appears to be the bigger hurdle.
“I would hope that our relationship is getting better,” Morgan said. “I would hope that I’ve shown him I’m accountable. In practice, even if he’s not throwing me the ball, I’ve worked on the scout team just to get extra reps.
“And I know every [wide receiver] position. I try to show as much as I can, but I can’t really read people’s minds. I know what the situation is. I just try to do my part — that’s all I can control.”