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Morgan wants to keep grip on No. 3 receiver job

FootballChicago BearsMarc TrestmanJay CutlerWashington RedskinsBrandon MarshallEric Weems
New No. 3 receiver Josh Morgan has steadily ascended since joining the Bears
Why did the Bears turn to Josh Morgan as their next No. 3 receiver?

Josh Morgan's ascent to the Bears' No. 3 receiver role has unfolded just about as he hoped it would.

The six-year veteran is not a flashy player. Over the last four months, he quietly has gotten comfortable with the playbook. He kept grinding for his chance, which presented itself after Marquess Wilson broke his collarbone on Aug. 4 and Eric Weems was released Saturday.

And in the wake of the Bears' signing of veteran receiver Santonio Holmes, Morgan is determined to take hold of the third receiver spot beginning with Friday's road exhibition game against the Seahawks.

"I'm just going to try to keep my head down and keep doing what I got to do to make plays," he said. "It's a cliche they say in the league — when your number is called, you've got to make a play. That's all I can do. Catch it and do something with it."

So far, Morgan has. His five catches for 77 yards qualify as steady production through two exhibition games.

Since signing a one-year minimum salary benefit contract in April, he has impressed coaches with the same skill set that helped him lead the Redskins with 48 receptions in 2012.

"He's a powerful guy," coach Marc Trestman said. "He's a big guy. He's explosive, he's got straight-line speed, and he has experience.

"He's the most experienced, other than Santonio, of any of the receivers that we have. So we want to give him a chance now. He has really worked hard in practice and he has had two really good games."

Perhaps Morgan simply is thriving in the type of environment he craved.

He clashed with Redskins coach Mike Shanahan last season and was benched. He finished the year with only 20 catches and no touchdowns. He needed a change.

Trestman's program has re-energized him. Morgan said he cherishes his coach's personal investment in his players and how similar principles permeate the locker room.

He cited his process of learning the Bears offense.

"It has been slow for me," Morgan said. "I had some great help with the walk-throughs, with the coaches."

Pro Bowl receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery and backup quarterback Jordan Palmer helped him understand concepts of routes and formations in the scheme.

That has set him up to make catches like the leaping 18-yard grab he made near the sideline on third-and-1 against the Jaguars in Thursday's exhibition.

"He's a playmaker," said quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who completed that pass and two others to him Thursday. "He got off the ball really well on a couple of those and gave me some room to throw the ball down the sideline. He runs good routes and catches the ball with his hands really well."

As Morgan looks ahead to Friday's game, he expects to benefit from quarterback Jay Cutler's extensive work with the second-string offense during training camp.

Morgan understands what Cutler expects and wants on certain routes. That should help him play fast.

"Coach Trestman said just yesterday: 'If you're thinkin', you're stinkin'," Morgan said. "The passes, they come few and far between. So when they do come, you've got to make the most of it."

rcampbell@tribune.com

Twitter @Rich_Campbell

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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FootballChicago BearsMarc TrestmanJay CutlerWashington RedskinsBrandon MarshallEric Weems
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