Marshall inks four-year deal

LAKE FOREST, IL — The Chicago Bears signed a four-year contract with seventh-round draft pick Alfonso Marshall today. The 215th overall choice will have to impress the coaching staff during training camp to make the 53-man roster.

Marshall is the fourth of the Bears' eight 2004 draft picks to reach a contract agreement, joining second round pick Tank Johnson along with fourth-round picks Nathan Vasher and Leon Joe. Terms of Marshall's deal were not disclosed at this time.

The expansion of the practice squad from five to eight players will give Marshall a chance to develop if he's unable to make the final roster cut. The Bears will likely carry five cornerbacks and with Charles Tillman, Jerry Azumah, R.W. McQuarters and Vasher locks to make the team that leaves Todd McMillon, Brock Williams and Marshall to compete for the final spot.

The four-year University of Miami letterman became a starting cornerback for the Hurricanes as a senior and went on to set career-highs in interceptions, pass defenses and tackles that season.

Marshall also contributed on special teams, which will likely be the way he earns playing time as a rookie. Throughout his collegiate career he totaled 84 tackles (56 solos), three interceptions and 19 pass break-ups while starting 15 of 45 career games played. As a sophomore, Marshall was a member of Miami's 2001 BCS National Championship team.

The Bears still have work to do before the start of training camp. With five days left before practices open, only half of the team's eight draft picks have signed. Defensive tackle Tommie Harris (1st round, 14th overall), wide receiver Bernard Berrian (3rd, 78th), defensive end Claude Harriott (5th, 147th) and quarterback Craig Krenzel (5th, 148th) are the four remaining Bears draft choices that are unsigned.

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