Brandon Marshall never too far from Bears WRs

SHARE Brandon Marshall never too far from Bears WRs
SHARE Brandon Marshall never too far from Bears WRs

For the Bears, the days of receiver Brandon Marshall are over, but his presence is still felt.

And it’s not only his incessant yapping and trash-talking from afar. This isn’t about quarterback Jay Cutler and what Marshall thinks of him.

Who is the energetic, outspoken guy in the Bears receivers room nowadays?

“Josh Bellamy, for sure,” third-year receiver Marquess Wilson jokingly said at Olivet Nazarene University during training camp.

Wait, who?

An undrafted rookie out of Louisville in 2012, Bellamy has impressed in camp but has yet to record a catch in a regular-season game.

“That’s just me,” a smiling Bellamy said. “I try to bring energy to my position group and to my team.”

And that’s the Bears’ receivers room in 2015.

It was a place where Marshall reigned supreme. But the Bears’ new regime decided that had to change and traded Marshall with a late pick to the New York Jets because it foresaw potential problems.

But Marshall remains a strong influence.

His connections start with receiver Alshon Jeffery, but they don’t end there. Marshall hit it off with first-round draft pick Kevin White during his draft process and he remains a big-brother figure for Wilson and Bellamy.

“I still talk to him,” Bellamy said. “He calls me. I FaceTime with him sometimes.”

Wilson said he talks to Marshall to this day.

“Of course,” he said. “Brandon definitely helped me my first two years just with the mindset game of playing football in the league and just keeping my head on my shoulders.”

As it so happens, the Bears are in flux at receiver.

White will undergo surgery soon for a stress fracture in his left shin and could miss the season. Jeffery, who is in a contract year, will miss the preseason game against the Colts because of a mild calf strain.

The Bears would seem to be in need of a player to set the tempo for the receivers.

Players point to veteran Eddie Royal, a former teammate of Marshall’s in Denver. But Royal has never considered himself a replacement for Marshall and even calls himself a lead-by-example type.

Jeffery does, too.

And players see that.

“[Jeffery] leads with his play,” Bellamy said.

Not everyone wants to say it, but the dynamic has changed without Marshall — for better and worse.

The Bears miss his talents, and some miss his voice, but they don’t miss him.

Does that make sense?

“He’s never been one who liked to downplay [things],” Bellamy said. “He always helped everybody and he’d tell you, if you’re not on point today, he was going to tell you. Brandon, he’s a very vocal guy.”

Bellamy said Marshall is a “good guy.”

“Sometimes he’s not always … you know, but, hey, I miss him,” Bellamy said. “I’m pretty sure some of the guys around here miss him.”

Time will tell if the Bears are better off without him.

“Brandon was a great player and he made a lot of plays for us over the years,” receivers coach Mike Groh said in Bourbonnais. “Just like when a guy’s injured — just like when Kevin’s not here — we’ve just got to move on with the guys that we’ve got.

“I’m proud of the way the group’s worked and come together and absorbed this new system. They’ve embraced it. It’s exciting to learn this offense, and these guys can see that they can be very productive if they just know exactly where to be.”

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