LAKE FOREST – Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall returned to practice Tuesday for the first time since undergoing January hip surgery, saying he expects to be 100 percent for the start of training camp.
Marshall had his third hip surgery in four years, an arthroscopic procedure, after a season in which he set franchise records for catches (118) and receiving yards (1,508).
"It's been affecting me for two years," Marshall said. "It was one of those things where I thought maybe it was just some training or some strength problems or some flexibility problems. But when we went in there they saw a little something and cleaned it up. It was one of those things where after a lot of pounding it tightened up on me, got a little weak. So now I'm just thankful that we caught it in time and cleaned it out."
Marshall did not go through a full practice but did individual drills and some noncontact scrimmage work in the final week of Bears organized team activities. He will gradually work his way back and will likely not go all out next week when the Bears have a mandatory full-squad minicamp.
"He's got full medical clearance," general manager Phil Emery said. "Obviously, he was catching the ball well, he looked good with his feet and his routes. And as we build toward veteran minicamp next week it will be exciting to see him get more reps as he goes."
Marshall said his hips will have to be monitored after he leaves the game because of the amount of wear and tear he's taken.
"It's one of those things where probably when I'm done (playing) it's going to be one of those things where I'm going to have to stay on it," Marshall said of his long-term health. "But it's a scope. I'm excited that's all it is. I have to be smart, continue just to rehab throughout the season and throughout the rest of my career. But I'm just thankful that we caught it and it's in a place where it's a nonweight-bearing part of the bone. That's good."
The eight-year veteran admitted he may not have been healthy all last year when he caught 11 touchdown passes and was reunited with quarterback Jay Cutler, who threw to him his first three seasons with Denver.
"I'm excited to see what I can do fully healthy and also there are some little things that I've been watching on film of myself," he said. "Every year you get smarter, you get better, and I think being healthy and a little bit smarter this year, it's going to be a productive year for me helping the offense out."
Marshall has been able to participate in the installation of the team's offense under new coach Marc Trestman and finds it to his liking even if the old attack resulted in prodigious numbers last year.
"I'm ecstatic," he said. "I've never been around better coaches. (Former Bears coach) Lovie (Smith): amazing coach, amazing man. Coach (Mike) Shanahan: amazing coach, one of the gurus of the game. (Former QB coach) Josh McDaniels, one of the gurus on offense. But what we have here in (offensive coordinator Aaron) Kromer and coach Trestman, their leadership on offense is amazing. I've never been around it."
Marshall had 1,133 yards and 74 more catches than the next Bear, and this year it's likely he'll have to give up some of the catches and yards in what is expected to be a more balanced attack.
"I may have the same amount of targets, I may not," he said. "I'd be lying if I said I don't want to be productive, that I don't want to be up there with the best. But at the end of the day if we don't win none of us will be here. The only thing I'm excited about is playing my part."