When the New York Giants signed veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall this past March to a two-year, $11 million deal the story was all about the New York Jets were ridding themselves of a very expensive distraction. Few thought about how much of a positive impact he could have on his new team.
Except for the Giants, who gobbled Marshall up before the free agency period began, keeping him away from any other potential suitors. The 6-foot-4 inch six-time Pro Bowler is expected to boost the Giants’ sagging short-yardage and red zone offense and make them both more physical and versatile at the same time.
Marshall ran his routes at the Giants’ third OTA session on Thursday wearing red spandex pants and was hard to miss. He was fluid and looked fit and with the absence of Odell Beckham, Jr. and the recent reports of Victor Cruz’ bitter departure, Marshall put a positive spin on the wide receiver unit.
“Brandon has been a breath of fresh air for us,” said head coach Ben McAdoo. “He comes out, he works hard at football, you can see he loves football. It’s refreshing to have a guy that’s been as productive as he has over his career and has played as long as he’s played, being out here working the way he works; you can really see he loves the game.”
Sterling Shepard, the second-year wideout who hopes to benefit from Marshall’s presence on and off the field, was asked what type of impact he sees the former Jet making this season.
“A big one,” said Shepard. “He is a big guy so he gives us that big presence on the outside. He is a great guy to learn from. Just the little stuff, he will come and help you out with on the side. He doesn’t really know the system yet, so it’s hard for him to help you with anything that has to do with schemes but when it comes to technique, he’s always there on the side coaching.”
Marshall is looking forward to imparting some off what he’s learned over his 11-year NFL career on to some of the younger players.
“It is an honor to be in the NFL. That is the biggest thing,” he said. “It truly is a blessing. When I was four years old, this is what I knew I wanted to do. There wasn’t a plan B. I should have had a plan B for all those kids out there listening, but I didn’t and now I am here, living out my dream and going into my 12th season and that is the biggest thing that I hope they understand, is what an honor it really is.”
Marshall not only gives QB Eli Manning a rangy, veteran target, he gives the defense a workout during practices as well. Pro Bowl CB Janoris Jenkins enjoys covering Marshall, who is a change up to the team’s smaller, fleeter receivers.
“It is awesome,” said Jenkins. “You get different types of releases from B Marshall, OBJ and Sterling, so you get to work everything because you have a big guy, a fast guy and a quick guy. Each and every day you just have to come out here and get better.”
Marshall returned the compliment to Jenkins, whom he compared to some of the other top corners he has had the pleasure of practicing against such as Darrelle Revis, Champ Bailey, Darrent Williams, Vontae Davis, Peanut Tillman and Tim Jennings.
“I have three guys that can really compete and the first couple days I have really been competing against the Rabbit (Jenkins). I am still getting used to that name and he is special. I won one today and caught a go ball and then came back and he wiped that play out and he just shut me down on an in-cut and a 15 yard comeback. There were a few other plays where the ball didn’t come our way, but it was great competition and I appreciate that because I am not going to come out here and be embarrassed. So I know that he is going to bring it every day and that means that I have to do the same or I am going to be on the film and not looking too hot.”
The Giants are excited about the possibilities Marshall brings to their offense. Everyone knows the dynamics that OBJ brings to the equation, but also acknowledges Shepard’s ability along with the Giants’ top draft pick, TE Evan Engram.
“Like I said, I have a wealth of experience that they can pull from organically and whenever that happens I am always open and happy to give advice and I just think that this is a special locker room,” he said.
“There is so much swag. I have never been on a team with so much swag, so much dancing, guys dressing amazing, guys with great hair. Did you see that I changed my hair this year? You see, I am just trying to keep up with these guys.”
The way he looks right now, they are going to have a tough time keeping up with him.