Carroll County Times

Ravens Notebook: Marshall, Jeffery present unique challenge for secondary

OWINGS MILLS - The Ravens have faced some good wide receivers this season - A.J. Green, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Josh Gordon and others.
But the Bears' tandem of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery presents a different type of challenge for Baltimore's secondary, said cornerback Corey Graham.
"Those guys are what, both 6-4, 230?" Graham said.
Marshall is. Jeffery is 6-3, 220. Together, they form maybe the biggest, most physical starting wide receiver tandem. But both are good players because of more than just their size.
Marshall has been considered one of the best receivers in the league for the past several years. He ranked among the league leaders in catches, yards and touchdowns last season and once again ranks among the best this year.
He has 60 catches for 786 yards and eight touchdowns.
"He does everything," cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "He's a big, powerful receiver. He runs great routes. Most importantly, he catches the ball no matter where you put it.
"Wherever he's lined up, we have to know because he's a game-changer."
Jeffery was Chicago's second-round pick last year.
He only had 24 catches as a rookie, but he has 47 catches for 735 yards and three touchdowns this season. He had nine catches for 114 yards against the Lions last week.
"He's got the potential to be the best wide receiver the Bears ever had, one of the best wide receivers this league has ever seen," Marshall said. "He has his own style. Sometimes it can look unorthodox, but the kid makes plays. He probably has the best hands I've ever seen."
Combined, they have more yards than any other receiving tandem in the league.
Baltimore's cornerbacks had arguably their best collective effort of the season against the Bengals last week, and the Bears will not have starting quarterback Jay Cutler, but the cornerbacks will be tested even with Josh McCown at quarterback because of Marshall and Jeffery.
"It's going to be a tough challenge," cornerback Jimmy Smith said.
OLD STOMPING GROUNDS: When the Ravens play the Bears Sunday, Graham will return to the stadium he called home for the first five years of his career. Graham was a fifth-round pick of Chicago in 2007 and played with the Bears through 2011 before signing with Baltimore as a free agent last spring.
Graham was a Pro Bowl special teams player for Chicago, but he feels he never got a fair opportunity to play defense, which contributed to him leaving as a free agent.
With the Ravens, though, he started 12 games last season, including the playoffs, and he has seen extensive playing time on defense this year as Baltimore's nickel back.
"When you go back to somewhere you used to play, it's always something a little extra," Graham said. "There always is. Obviously they've got a different coaching staff, so that makes it a little different. But as far as getting the opportunity to go back there and play in Chicago, it means a lot to me. ... I look forward to going back there and showing what I've got."
INJURY REPORT: Four defensive starters missed practice Thursday and another, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, was added to the injury report with a neck injury.
Suggs practiced on a limited basis, as did safety safety James Ihedigbo (toe) and Smith (groin).
Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (knee), inside linebacker Daryl Smith (thigh) and Webb (groin) all missed practice for a second straight day. Defensive end Chris Canty (knee) didn't practice.
For the Bears, tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle) was added to the injury report Thursday. He didn't practice.
Neither did defensive end Shea McClellin (hamstring), who missed practice for a second straight day. So did long snapper Patrick Mannelly (calf) and defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (groin).