- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler praised receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery for their contributions this season, saying the former needs to make his first playoff appearance in eight seasons as a pro, while the latter deserves to make the Pro Bowl.
A four-time Pro Bowler, Marshall has caught 94 passes for 1,221 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Jeffery is responsible for 1,341 yards and seven TDs on 86 receptions. Marshall and Jeffery form the league's top receiving duo in the NFL with 2,563 yards, with the combined receiving yards ranking as the most in franchise history by a duo.
On multiple occasions, Marshall has discussed making the Pro Bowl and receiving lucrative contracts, but he claims the goal now is to finally play in a postseason contest for the first time in his career and eventually compete in the Super Bowl.
“I feel bad for him,” Cutler said Monday during the “Jay Cutler Show” on ESPN 1000. “An amazing player on his third team and has played at a high, high level. I saw a stat at some point. He's the first player to have two 1,000-yard seasons for three different teams. We've talked about it. We've mentioned it to some of the coaches and some of the guys. Everyone is just shocked eight years have went by and he still hasn't made the playoffs. So he deserves it. Like I said, we're gonna do everything possible Sunday and I know he will, too.”
As for Jeffery, the quarterback is hoping the second-year pro is recognized for his breakout 2013 campaign. A second-round pick, Jeffery played in just 10 games as a rookie due to hand and knee injuries that forced him out of six contests.
After spending the offseason working out with Marshall, Jeffery returned in 2013 to make a significant impact on the offense.
“I think he deserves it,” Cutler said, when asked if it's important the receiver is recognized for his accomplishments. Given the rule changes for the Pro Bowl, it was mentioned to Cutler that eight receivers would be taken overall, regardless of conference. “I think he's a top-eight receiver in the league, and I think he'll get recognized," the quarterback said.
Cutler also believes Jeffery's work habits will help him enjoy a long career. When Cutler first watched Jeffery as a rookie, his talents and abilities were “off the charts,” the quarterback said.
“You watched him make some plays, and you're like, ‘Man, if this happens consistently, he's gonna be hard to stop,'” Cutler said. “He's just too good. He makes too many big plays. He's too consistent at practices. It's every day with this guy. He's doing things on the sideline when we're not going. He's a consummate pro at Year 2, which is hard to find. Most guys, it takes three or four years to figure out what they need to do on and off the field. But Alshon's got it nailed. He's very even-keeled. He's gonna be around for a long time.”