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Marshall poised for big game against Panthers

Brandon Marshall has struggled through injuries the past two games, and has performed well below the level Bears fans are used to. There are some reasons to believe that Marshall is poised to bounce back this Sunday, though.

Jonathan Daniel

Brandon Marshall has been an absolute beast throughout his two seasons in Chicago. In his two and a quarter seasons in the Windy City, Marshall has caught 234 passes for 2,947 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Marshall has been, without a doubt, the best receiver the Bears have seen, likely ever. Alshon Jeffery might end up as good or better, but his body of work isn't quite there yet.

Marshall has overcome a lot of obstacles in his career, most notably his diagnosis with borderline personality disorder, but in Chicago with his mental health in order he has been a model citizen and a true leader in the locker room. His makeover has been a remarkable transformation, and is one of the great redemption stories of the NFL in recent years.

However, his 2014 season hasn't started off quite as well as he would like. While his five touchdown catches is tied for the league lead after four games, Marshall injured his ankle in a week two win over the San Francisco 49ers and has not been the same player since. In the past two games Marshall has caught three passes for 25 yards and one TD, after catching 13 for 119 and four TDs in the first two games of the season.

While Marshall has proved to be one of the toughest players throughout his career, and has missed only five games in his nine-year career, he has clearly struggled the past two weeks with his ankle.

He has caught a pass in every game going back to week 13 of the 2010 season, when he was with the Dolphins. After missing two games with a hamstring injury, Marshall has not missed a game since and has a caught a pass in 56 consecutive games.

In those 56 games he's had only one game in which he caught one pass, and that was week 10 of 2011 during a Dolphins 35-8 win. That is, until he caught only one pass for nine yards against the Jets in week three of this season. Aside from his rookie season, those are Marshall's only two one-catch games in his career.

His two-run stretch of injury-riddled games this year have been the least productive of his Bears career. Before the past two games, his worst was weeks two and three in 2012 when he caught seven passes for 95 yards and no touchdowns against the Packers (2 for 24 yards, a 23-10 loss) and Rams (5 for 71, a 23-6 win).

The thing about Marshall is that you can't keep him down for long. Back in 2010 with the Dolphins he had a two game stretch, separated by the two games he missed with that hamstring injury, where he caught five passes for 57 yards and a touchdown. The next week he caught 11 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown. In 2011 after his one-catch for five yards performance, he came back the next week to catch five passes for 103 yards and a TD.

After that poor two-week run with the Bears in 2012, he came back in week four and caught seven passes for 138 yards and a TD. Later that season, after a two-catch, 21-yards and a TD game against San Francisco, Marshall caught 12 passes for 92 yards.

Marshall has a history of bouncing back after his poor games. He's stayed away from the media the past two weeks, but talked about his need to be more accountable to them on Inside the NFL earlier this week. He's had full participation in practice this week as well, for the first time since his ankle injury.

The Panthers have the 12th ranked pass defense, allowing only 233 yards per game on average, but they have allowed the fifth-most passing TDs with nine, and are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 64.6 percent of their passes and have a 94.6 rating against them.

With that in mind, I would think that Marshall is primed to get back to his normal self, and get his stats back up to where Bears fans are used to seeing them.