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Brandon Marshall starting with clean slate with move to Bears

New Bears receiver BrandMarshall expects mesh with quarterback Jay Cutler.  | AP

New Bears receiver Brandon Marshall expects to mesh with quarterback Jay Cutler. | AP

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Updated: July 26, 2012 3:51PM

BOURBONNAIS – This is the new and improved Brandon Marshall.

One that has publicly admitted he’s flawed, one that has vastly improved in the self-awareness department.

So lying to the media on Thursday, the same day that the Bears took the field for their first practice of the 2012 training camp? That wasn’t going to happen.

“No, not even close,” Marshall responded, when asked if at least on paper, this Bears offense had the most weapons he could remember playing alongside of. “Like I said, 1994, my little league [football] team, the Kingsley Knights, no, I’m being honest. We were scoring at will. It was amazing.

“Kareem was amazing. He was the two-back, I was the three-back. We probably had 20 touchdowns apiece. Our quarterback Al was pretty good. He was the coach’s son, so you know he got the ball a lot.”

The bar is set. You hear that Jay Cutler? You have to match Al, the coach’s son. Matt Forte, you try and keep up with what Kareem was capable of doing on any given Saturday morning.

As for Marshall, Bears fans are hoping he can take care of the rest.

With camp starting, the feeling is that the Bears not only have an elite wide receiver as far as the rest of the League is concerned, but Marshall can easily become one of the most prolific receivers in an anemic receiving history of the franchise.

Then again, when Marty Booker [100 receptions in 2001] and Dick Gordon [13 touchdown receptions in 1970] are the standard in Bears receiving records, Marshall can smash those marks in his sleep.

Three times he’s reached the 100-reception mark, with the last coming in 2009, when he had 101. His best touchdown mark is 10, but then again, commissioner Roger Goodell and his rules committee are doing all they can to open up the game for passing offenses to excel. That should right in Marshall’s wheelhouse.

What can hold him back?

Unfortunately for Marshall, it’s the same old demons that have haunted him throughout his first six seasons. He can break press coverage with the best of them, but he hasn’t been able to escape the guy in the mirror.

His self-admitted battle with mental illness and getting treatment for that in the last year, have seemingly made him a new man. Coming to the Bears in an offseason trade with Miami, has seemingly given him a clean slate.

But there’s a reason that Marshall can’t be seen walking by himself very often since arriving in Bourbonnais. He’s been given a crutch, a shadow, and Cutler has played that role to perfection.

“It’s always been that way,” he explained, when asked why it seemed like he and Cutler were connected at the hip. “And it’s not always fun, not always good.

“I was thinking about that earlier. In any relationship, when you take two different people from two different places, and then you put them together you butt heads because sometimes you try and impose your own wills on each other. Once you understand there is no right or wrong, it’s just two different people, that’s when the relationship gets better. With Jay and I, it’s always some work.”

It was in Denver, where they spent three seasons together [2006-08], and it will likely be now. The hope is both men have grown, with now one single focus to reach for: A Super Bowl trophy.

“You can put a good quarterback and a good receiver together, and it’s not always going to mesh because sometimes you don’t see things on the field the same way or off the field the same way,” Marshall said. “Jay and I, I don’t know why, we see things the same way.”

Coincidentally, Marshall’s best season came in 2009, when he had 101 receptions and 10 touchdowns. That came a year after Cutler was gone from Denver.

His quarterback that season? Kyle Orton.

Orton is no Cutler. And from the sound of it, Orton was not even the coach’s son from that ’94 team, Al.

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