EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Brandon Marshall is working in a new environment with a different offense, team and quarterback. It's been five-plus months since he signed with the New York Giants as a free agent, and, naturally, it's taken some getting used to. His teammates view him as the older, inquisitive student, always asking questions while sitting next to the teacher in the back of the room. His coach is impressed by his communication skills.
Marshall still feels like he's getting acclimated to his new surroundings.
“You know what, I feel really comfortable where I’m at right now,” Marshall said. “Obviously I’m not where I need to be, but where I was in OTAs and spring and summer wasn’t a great place as far as feeling like a rookie, new terminology. But it wasn’t even that. I’ve been in several offenses, had several quarterbacks. For some reason, the way we do things here is really different.
"I’ve never really been in a no-huddle offense; the tempo is like learning a new language because everything this nonverbal communication. So, that was difficult for me, but we stuck to it and I’m in a really comfortable place now and there’s some things I still have to figure out.”
It was noticeable during one-on-one drills between wide receivers and cornerbacks on Tuesday. Marshall ran a route and wasn’t on the same page as quarterback Eli Manning, who threw a pass toward the sideline while Marshall ran toward the middle. There was a pre-snap signal that Marshall had never seen before, and he ran a different route than his quarterback expected.
This is why Manning and Marshall had FaceTime sessions earlier this summer. Marshall was trying to launch a preemptive attack on the learning curve he expected this summer. It’s also why Manning administered an impromptu test in the locker room Tuesday after practice.
”Literally 10 seconds ago, Eli walked in the locker room and took me through five minutes of just throwing things at me, seeing where I was,” Marshall said Tuesday afternoon. “So, he knows where I’m at and where I’m not at. He’s challenging me every second he gets, so we’ll be where we need to become Week 1.”
Marshall, 33, said this isn’t a unique experience. Manning does it every so often. It’s a useful tool to get more accustomed to the different verbiage and signals he’s attempting to master.
The response has been positive. Marshall has been more than receptive.
“It’s just real spontaneous. I mean, it’s interesting,” he said. “We may be talking about what type of cereal we’re going to have, and he just switches the subject to some type of football. … Literally we just got out of the shower, we had towels on, and he was pretty much half-dressed, and he started giving me signals.”
That relationship seems to be growing by the day. It’s evident on the field. Marshall has become more involved in the offense over the past week and it’s not unusual to see the two talking between plays about certain routes, defenses or signals.
The relationship is off to a strong start. Manning has talked glowingly of his new receiver and his work ethic.
“Brandon’s been great,” he said last week. “Every day trying to learn, always has questions for me and we’re trying to figure out what he can do better, how we can get on the same page. So, I think he’s been dialed in and been a great leader and just setting the example for how to be prepared for every practice.”
Marshall’s questions extend beyond his quarterback and wide receivers coach. He’s also been seen talking with the head coach, McAdoo, more than most on the field.
“He’s a tremendous communicator,” McAdoo said. “Communication is not just a one-way street. It’s a two-way street. There’s input and there’s output.”
McAdoo was the initiator at Tuesday’s practice. He saw something he didn’t like from Marshall and offered his input.
Marshall found it useful, even if it was critical.
“It’s great. He’s always checking in,” Marshall said. “[Tuesday] it was more of getting on me. This was the first time he was getting on me. He wanted me to be more aggressive to the ball, on the fade, being a little fancy on those a little bit. It’s just walking me through the timing, what Eli sees and how he’s processing things.
“It’s been great to have a coach that is going to hold everyone accountable. He holds Eli accountable, he holds a scout team guy accountable and he holds me accountable. He’s also there for you when you need to talk to him. It’s kind of special, what he has going on here.”
Marshall’s trying to seamlessly become a part of it all. It remains a work in progress.