GREEN BAY, Wis. — Even without Jay Cutler, the Chicago Bears have a star receiver who can help make his backup look good.
It’s up to Green Bay’s secondary to make sure Brandon Marshall doesn’t get that chance Monday night at Lambeau Field. Josh McCown will start at quarterback for Cutler, out with an injured groin.
Standing a sturdy 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, Marshall is no pushover. The Packers must find a way to slow him and 6-foot-3 wideout Alshon Jeffery.
“If you want to press them or not, just maintain your leverage,” said 5-foot-11 cornerback Sam Shields. “Playing great technique on them, not let them get explosive plays up the field.”
Sounds easy enough, but statistics indicate it won’t be a cakewalk. This is an NFC North showdown, after all, between two teams that like to push each other around. A win Monday for the Bears (4-3) would create a three-way tie atop the division with the Packers (5-2) and Lions, who are 5-3 and have a bye this week.
Marshall has 46 catches for 540 yards and five touchdowns. Jeffery has 33 catches for 561 yards and two scores.
“They use their size advantage to try to seek collision, push off, get separation,” Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “They’re both very good with the ball after the catch. That’s the challenge is the size of these guys.”
Don’t forget about 6-foot-6 tight end Martellus Bennett (32 catches, 356 yards, four TDs). Marshall plans on things going well even if Green Bay shuts him down.
“I’m expecting them to definitely do something to take me out of the game and if that’s the case, we have guys who can do some damage,” Marshall said. “It’s going to be tough, though.”
Perhaps in part because the Packers now feature a full complement of relatively healthy defensive backs, with the return of Casey Hayward last week from a hamstring injury. Hayward had six interceptions last year.