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Brandon Marshall-Eli Manning Pairing A Work In Progress

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Great play shows potential, missed chance shows work yet to be done

NFL: New York Giants-Training Camp
Brandon Marshall
William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

Arguably the biggest splash the New York Giants made in the 2017 offseason happened before the draft and even free agency really commenced. That was the signing of wide receiver Brandon Marshall after he was released by the New York Jets.

After the Giants’ offense sputtered and dropped a touchdown per game in scoring average from the previous two seasons, Marshall was brought in to provide diversity to the receiving corps, help with perimeter blocking, and be the big, physical red-zone threat the offense had lacked in years past.

Saturday was Giants’ fans first opportunity to really see their newest receiver go to work against the defense, and they weren’t disappointed. Odell Beckham Jr. may have stolen the show but the 33-year-old Marshall started practice strong with a great reception over Janoris Jenkins.

“It felt good. You hear a lot of talk about being over 30 and then there’s an extreme drop off. So for me that play was awesome because it was really the first play of training camp because it’s the first time going against the defense. Being the new guy, you want to prove yourself. Secondly, I want to prove to myself that I can still do it. So, making a play that could possibly be, maybe not the top 10 plays, but possibly the top 20 felt good. I was like, okay I can still do this.”

Of course, coming to a new team with a new quarterback, and a new offense, is a process. That was evident on one play. Manning fired a pass across the middle to where he thought Marshall would be. Only Marshall wasn’t, he had pulled up short of where Manning was trying to take him.

“It’s timing, it was there,” he said. “You know, that’s where Eli was supposed to go with the ball and as a receiver, you got to build that chemistry with your quarterback. What I did wasn’t wrong if it was a different offense. I throttled in the zone and Eli wants you to run through it. So, it wasn’t like I slowed down but I bursted through that first hole and I would’ve caught the ball. So literally, I was like a foot away from making a big play for the team, but I missed it because of that timing. So now, I got it and I won’t make that mistake again.”

Marshall was asked to clarify why what he did would have been correct in another offense, but didn’t work with Eli.

“Yeah because Eli, I think he’s third in the league with getting the ball out, so as a receiver when you get in and out breaks you got to get your head around. Playing with other guys that had strong arms, you know, there’s some guys that have strong arms and they wait to see if you’re open. Eli, he has a very good arm, and he also has amazing timing. So, that’s the difference. Eli is one of the best at getting the ball out fast, and as a receiver you’ve got to get your head around and you got to run.”

Finally, Marshall was asked how he felt taking a step back from being a “Number 1” receiver and carrying offenses to being a secondary option behind Beckham. The veteran didn’t mince words, saying;

“Yes. Absolutely, that’s why I came here, because of him. I’m tired of getting double coverage and vised in the red zone,” Marshall said. “I’ll let him freakin’ carry all the weight.”

Of course, being a receiver he does care about his personal production, and he added, “No, it’s all important. I‘m not going to sit here and lie to you guys about that. As a receiver, that’s what makes us great, but that’s also what holds us back. You have to be able to check your ego. It’s definitely about winning, but at the same time, guys want to perform as well. I’ve been there, done that. I’ve had 100 catches several times, done some amazing things, went to some Pro Bowls. The only thing that I haven’t checked off is being able to earn one of those Lombardi trophies.”