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Friday, November 9, 2012
Other Bears receivers ready to step in

By Jesse Rogers

LAKE FOREST -- Whether Houston Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was serious or not when he said Thursday that he’ll double team Brandon Marshall on every play, it doesn’t really matter to the Chicago Bears. They already expect it, which means other wide receivers may have to step up.

Earl Bennett
Bears receiver Earl Bennett hasn't seen as many passes thrown his way this season.
“They know we throw it to him most of the time,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said Friday after practice. “He’s our No. 1 receiver. No matter what they do we’ll try to get the ball to him. That will open up other things. Our running game also. Whatever they decide to do it should still benefit us.”

It will only benefit the Bears if others are making plays. Earl Bennett used to be Jay Cutler’s favorite target, but since Marshall came on board he hasn’t seen the ball as much. As Phillips noted, the Bears “haven’t thrown it to the other guys very much except the running back.” That’s starting to change with the extra coverage. Bennett was targeted a season-high eight times last week against Tennessee.

“We know teams are going to try to take Brandon out so we have to do our job,” Bennett said. “We have to go out and make plays and relieve the pressure off Brandon.”

Of course, Cutler also has to look Bennett’s or Devin Hester's way.

“Jay knows,” Bennett said. “He has to make the reads and make the right throw.”

Hester added: “Whenever you double one guy you single up the backside. If they want to do that it’s up to us to make plays and get them out of that coverage.”

Hester has been targeted just twice in the last two games after a season high six looks against Detroit. It means his chances to explode have been limited but, again, that could change any day if Marshall is quieted. It could be Sunday.

“It’s a challenge for those guys every game,” wide receivers coach Daryl Drake said. “Whether they (double Marshall) remains to be seen. At the same time, they’re going to try and stop him and those guys will get opportunities. They need to take advantage of them.”

The other receivers seem to know one of those days is coming; when it won’t be Marshall targeted double-digit times but Bennett or even Matt Forte out of the backfield. The secondary group of skilled players is waiting for their turn to shine.

“Brandon is a great receiver and will draw a lot of attention,” Hester said. “We have to take advantage of opportunities to make plays. Simple as that.”