- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Seattle Seahawks' third-ranked passing defense is anchored by a pair of big, physical cornerbacks that could present a serious challenge to Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall on Sunday.
The Seahawks' cornerback tandem of 6-foot-3 Richard Sherman and 6-4 Brandon Browner have registered a combined seven interceptions, 21 pass break-ups and four forced fumbles for a Seattle defense that gives up the league's third-lowest point total at 16.8 per game.
Because of their size and ability, Sherman and Browner allow the Seahawks to play a lot of man coverage, which opposing teams have rarely done this season against Marshall.
There were questions regarding the availability of both players for Sunday's game after Sherman and Browner were each suspended four-games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. But the players appealed the suspensions, and it's unlikely the appeals process will play out before the Seahawks travel to Chicago.
So Marshall and the Bears are preparing as if the two cornerbacks will be on the field Sunday.
"I've been excited about this game for some time just because of that," Marshall said. "Whenever you get a chance to play a little one on one, it's exciting. I've been watching film, and I saw what they did against (the Lions') Calvin (Johnson) and (the Cardinals') Larry (Fitzgerald). They threw some (Cover) 2 in there but for the most part they do what they do. I'm excited about that.
"It's different (going up against a tall cornerback), obviously because it's not what we call the prototypical corner. They present some different challenges. I'm excited about this matchup. I'm happy that they are playing, really excited they are playing. That's good for the game, and I'm ready to compete.”
Marshall has been a handful for opposing defenses. The NFL's third-leading receiver with 81 catches, Marshall has failed to top 70 yards receiving in just two games (Green Bay and San Francisco) and already has five 100-yard receiving games this season. The Bears all-time record is seven held by Jeff Graham (1995) and Harlon Hill (1954).
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler knows Sherman and Browner will be a difficult matchup for Marshall, but don't expect Cutler to look away from his No. 1 target. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Marshall has been targeted 121 times this season (third-highest in the NFL), while the second-most targeted Bears receiver is Earl Bennett with 39. That gap of 82 targets between Marshall and Bennett is the highest in the league.
"Brandon's usually the biggest guy out there on the outside, and he kind of does what he wills," Cutler said. "It's a different matchup for him; bigger guys (are) gonna grab, gonna pull, gonna get up in his face. So he's gonna have to attack it a little bit different. I'll talk to B, see what he's comfortable running with and go from there."