Mar­shall ea­ger to see Jaguars again

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Cameron Wolfe

Sun­day is the most an­tic­i­pated game of the reg­u­lar sea­son for Broncos linebacker Bran­don Mar­shall. Yes, Jack­sonville.

It’s sig­nif­i­cant be­cause he fi­nally gets an in-per­son op­por­tu­nity to prove that the NFL fran­chise that cut him three times made a mis­take. It’s been more than three years since he was last re­leased by the Jaguars, but Mar­shall still has a bit­ter taste in his mouth when asked about them.

“There’s a lot ex­tra in this game, man. I can’t wait. I’ve been wait­ing for this mo­ment for a long time,” said Mar­shall, who was a Jaguars fifth-round draft pick in 2012. “The scouts, the ex­ec­u­tives, some coaches, some play­ers, there’s a lot of peo­ple still back there from my time. That gives me a lit­tle ex­tra push, a lit­tle ex­tra oomph. It puts a lit­tle ex­tra sauce on this game.”

Mar­shall said then-Jaguars gen­eral man­ager Gene Smith and the coach­ing staff ques­tioned ev­ery­thing from his ath­leti­cism to his at­ti­tude to his abil­ity to even be an NFL player. When he signed his four-year, $32 mil­lion con­tract ex­ten­sion in June, he thought back to his days with the Jaguars.

While the Jaguars are likely re­gret­ting their de­ci­sion to let him go, Mar­shall is more than happy as his fourth sea­son with the Broncos is wind­ing down. He be­came the core of the Broncos’ in­side linebacker group af­ter Danny Tre­vathan left in free agency.

Mar­shall ad­mit­ted his ex­pec­ta­tions were huge — Pro Bowl, al­lpro and, of course, an­other Su­per Bowl ti­tle. While the last goal is pos­si­ble, he knows the first two are un­likely to hap­pen be­cause he hasn’t had the sea­son he ex­pected.

“Hon­estly, I feel like I’m hav­ing an av­er­age year,” Mar­shall said. “I don’t have any sacks, any in­ter­cep­tions. I haven’t made as many plays as I’ve had over the last cou­ple of years. I haven’t forced any fum­bles, re­cov­ered any fum­bles. I’m just run of the mill. I’m in the mid­dle of the pack in tack­les. I’m try­ing to cor­rect that.”

Mar­shall said the ex­tra at­ten­tion that came from his de­ci­sion to kneel dur­ing the na­tional anthem for the first eight games of the sea­son had no im­pact on his play.

“I got used to it,” Mar­shall said. “So it’s not like it’s mak­ing me re­lax more now, but it is one more thing off my plate.”

Mar­shall’s num­bers are, like he said, “run of the mill.” He’s tied for fourth on the team in tack­les, with no other sig­nif­i­cant splash stats. His value, how­ever, as fel­low in­side linebacker Todd Davis ex­plained, goes be­yond sta­tis­tics.

Davis pointed to Mar­shall’s lead­er­ship, com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills and over­all ver­sa­til­ity as rea­sons his sea­son has been un­der the radar.

“Maybe I have to stop wor­ry­ing about the big plays,” Mar­shall said. “It’ll come. I’m just go­ing to keep grind­ing and have a good run at the end of the sea­son. Hope­fully, I’ll have my best game as a pro against Jack­sonville.”

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