Wide receiver Brandon Marshall put on a show in the Bears' first padded practice Saturday night, electrifying an enthusiastic crowd of more than 10,000 in Bourbonnais.
The three-time Pro Bowler showed his toughness and playmaking ability, producing a slew of impressive receptions after shaking off an injury scare early in practice.
"Brandon Marshall is a scholarship player; I think we'll all agree with that," said coach Lovie Smith. "He made some big plays. A little scare there early on, but there was nothing to it. But you always fear it when you see one of your best players going down like that."
Marshall showed no ill effects from the mishap the rest of the night. On the final play of individual drills, he hauled in a long touchdown pass, beating cornerback Jonathan Wilhite.
In 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, Marshall generated even more plays: He stiff-armed safety Chris Conte to pick up extra yards along the sideline, caught a pass over the middle with nickel back D.J. Moore draped all over him, hauled in a laser beam from Jay Cutler while streaking down the left sideline, beat cornerback Charles Tillman on another deep pass; and made a leaping one-handed grab over the middle.
Smith said Marshall's performance was exactly what the Bears envisioned when they acquired him in a trade with the Miami Dolphins in March.
"We know what kind of player he is," Smith said. "He's going against a good football player most of the night in Charles Tillman. But when you're a good receiver and you have a good quarterback and you can get the ball there, it's just a one-on-one game and Brandon's going to win most of those battles."
First-round draft pick Shea McClellin also produced impact plays in Saturday night's practice, leaping high to deflect a screen pass intended for Armando Allen and breaking up a pass down the middle of the field to tight end Evan Rodriguez after dropping into coverage from his left defensive end position.
Receiver Devin Hester sat out with a minor ankle injury he sustained in Friday's practice, but Smith said he should be able to participate in Sunday's workout.
"You always can't wait to get to pads," Smith said. "You like a lot of the guys when we're running around in shorts, but you want to see what they can do. We had a good chance to get some good video on some of our defensive linemen since we haven't really been able to evaluate them the way you need to yet." [
Smith was impressed with the size of the crowd.
"Here in Chicago we have great fans," he said. "They come out. It's a perfect night to watch good football. It's the weekend here in Chicago. The crowd was into it and we like that.
"We're going to play a lot of prime-time games. Our guys need to be able to play in an environment where they hear fans talking to them, so this was a good environment and I think we put on a pretty good show for them tonight."