|05-21-2007, 03:21 AM||#1|
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Arcadia, CA
Marshall doing hard labor in search of excellence
Marshall doing hard labor in search of excellence
Broncos receiver knows what it takes in offseason to reach top
Darin Mcgregor © News © 2006
Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall came on strong at the end of his rookie season. "You could see his potential just soar," coach Mike Shanahan said earlier this year. "So, hopefully, he does the little things the right way in the offseason, because the sky's the limit relative to talent."STORY TOOLS
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By Lee Rasizer, Rocky Mountain News
May 20, 2007
Brandon Marshall is furiously trying to stay parallel to the ground, but his body is resisting.
And no wonder.
The Broncos receiver is perched on his elbows. His left foot resides on a medicine ball. His right leg is airborne. And Marshall, his body positioned a foot off the ground, slowly is trying to crawl by rolling the ball inch by inch with his tiptoes.
Matt Gates, the director of sports training at Cris Carter's FAST Program in Coral Springs, Fla., at that point bellows out words of encouragement.
"Let's go!" Gates yells while also checking his watch to make sure Marshall finishes the timed period strong.
Then, with a sudden fall, roll onto his back and another guttural intonation, Marshall is done.
The abdominal straining caps a nearly 3 1/2-hour session of strength and conditioning, part of a four- to five-day weekly routine Marshall had been doing since February in preparation for the start in April of the Broncos' offseason workout program.
Two speed workouts and two agility workouts made up the weekly routine, with endurance and conditioning mixed in. The goal was to seamlessly handle the physical demands of the next several months.
"Going into this offseason, I made up my mind to work harder than I did to get to the NFL," Marshall said.
On this particular morning a couple of months ago, the second-year receiver was confined indoors because of a steady downpour. Marshall began with some lateral footwork on a strip of artificial turf under a sign that read, "Get Fast or Be Last."
He moved to explosiveness training that included backpedaling, two-footed lunges, cone drills and something called "iggys," a quick-stepping ladder exercise that also incorporates sprint and change of direction.
After a cool-down period on a stationary bike, it was on to the bench press, lateral pulls, curls, rope triceps extensions and hip- flexion exercises, punctuated by the grueling ab exercises that left Marshall exhausted.
"It's impressive that he's made it a point to do this," said Leslie Calvagne, who has gauged Marshall's progress each of the past three years as general manager of the FAST facility.
It's no wonder.
The way Marshall played at the end of his rookie season has put him in line for a potential starting role in 2007 and made the offseason particularly important personally.
With Rod Smith still recovering from left hip surgery, Marshall could get the opportunity before training camp to show he belongs opposite Javon Walker with the first team.
Marshall was the starter last week when passing camp began as Smith, who is deep in a rehabilitation regimen that won't put him on the field until at least July, watched.
Marshall tends to downplay his potential at starting as motivation, suggesting his drive within pushes him. But the folks in Florida who watched the fervor as Marshall attacked workouts before returning to the Broncos' Dove Valley complex aren't necessarily buying the blasι take.
"He's way more driven this year," Calvagne said. "And he may not even see that. But I do."
Added Gates: "He absolutely knows the opportunity is there."
In December, Broncos Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey trumpeted Marshall's growth from start to finish of his rookie season.
But Bailey added a disclaimer: "Let's see how he works at it."
The scream that punctuated Marshall's arduous workout seemed to be his retort.
It isn't as if Marshall suddenly decided to pull himself up by the bootstraps and develop a work ethic.
Between bites of Steak Diane at a Cheesecake Factory blocks from his offseason home the night before a workout at the FAST complex, Marshall recalled his father, Fred, who was an all- city quarterback in Pittsburgh, taking him to the park and running him through tire drills, teaching routes and throwing him the ball as early as age 6.
The father also made sure the son kept a mental edge.
A huge snowstorm had blanketed Pittsburgh for one youth championship game. The players were covered from head to toe with cold-weather gear to brave the chill. And Marshall, then about 10, was warming up, dressed for the Arctic.
His father took one look and was having none of it.
"Before you know it, I'm out there on the field in negative-6 degrees, snow everywhere, with shorts, T-shirt and cleats on," Marshall recalled.
The memory sticks with Marshall as an example of the toughness necessary to succeed.
It had only limited impact then; Marshall admitted with a laugh he hid in a team van with his best friend at halftime and didn't come out for the second half.
Marshall also knew he had to listen to his father if he was going to become one of the infinitesimal percentile to make the NFL.
As a child, Marshall did everything he could to push forward toward his goals.
"I'd take the soap, wet it real good and squeeze it and catch it in the shower," Marshall said. "Going to bed, I'd turn out the lights and catch the ball in the dark. Walking down the street, I'd work on moves. Everything I did, I tried to incorporate into a workout."
And he never let anyone tell him he wouldn't make it.
When Marshall moved to Orlando, Fla., from Georgia, some kids were playing basketball and refused to pick him. Marshall grabbed the football he brought and before leaving, he told the group with a sneer, "Next time you see me, I'll be in the NFL."
Before a recent well-publicized spat that resulted in Marshall facing misdemeanor charges after a couple of verbal altercations, it was his girlfriend, Rasheedah Watley, whom he has known since high school, who provided inspiration.
She would badger Marshall if he was out late and tell him he needed to get up in the morning. One time, they were sitting at home watching TV when a show came on featuring the greatest bodies in the entertainment industry.
LL Cool J flashed on the screen, and the rapper/fitness aficionado did an unusual push-up in which he practically jumped off the ground.
"Baby, can you do that?" Watley asked.
Marshall shrugged his shoulders.
Then another entertainment heavyweight hit the countdown.
"Have you seen Usher's abs?" Watley said.
The next day, Marshall, a little exasperated his then-girlfriend was checking out other guys, excitedly replicated LL Cool J's push-ups as bystanders looked at him with raised eyebrows.
"I wanted to walk out of there bent over because my abs hurt so much, just so I could get abs like Usher," Marshall said.
Some prodding and intestinal fortitude also helped Marshall realize that to keep that kind of rock-hard figure, he needed to change his dietary habits.
Marshall began stopping at Subway instead of McDonald's. He often stayed home and made a sandwich instead of making late-night visits to the Waffle House.
Marshall (6-foot-4 3/4, 230 pounds) now has body fat between 7 percent and 8 percent.
Not easy for rookie
Not everything was as lighthearted during Marshall's rookie season, and certainly since.
The fourth-round pick from the University of Central Florida was the talk of early camps for his speed-size combination, quickly erasing talk he might be better suited for tight end or H-back.
Marshall was on his way to becoming the No. 3 receiver behind Smith and Walker when he tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during training camp.
Marshall, banished to the trainer's room and admittedly depressed, frequently would wear his favorite college sweat shirt, the hood allowing him to hide from the world.
Trainer Steve Antonopulos later told Marshall to leave the sweat shirt in the car.
When Marshall returned for his NFL debut, Sept. 17 against the Kansas City Chiefs, he still hadn't shaken the funk.
"I was mentally worrying about my knee as opposed to what I was supposed to be doing," he said.
Marshall wasn't getting off the jam. He wasn't aggressive going after the ball. His routes were sloppy. He aligned wrong at times. And he dropped a few passes.
Broncos assistant head coach Mike Heimerdinger, who has a deep background with receivers, never let Marshall off the hook.
Heimerdinger consistently singled out Marshall during meetings with a laser pointer for sloppy play, embarrassing the rookie in front of teammates.
Though Marshall admitted he knew the coaches were right, he one day jokingly asked Heimer- dinger why he always was picking on him.
"He told me I wasn't handling it in the right way," Marshall said. "He said I was a baby. I was pouting."
The hoodie returned in the meeting room, pulled tight over Marshall's head. Then it was receivers coach Steve Watson to tell Marshall to ditch the outerwear.
Setback, then promotion
A more direct message came when Marshall was demoted after three games in the lineup. He played special teams but rarely appeared at receiver for several weeks.
The move served as a wake-up call.
Marshall, by all accounts, began practicing better and rounding into his preseason form.
On an off day before the game Nov. 19 against the San Diego Chargers, coach Mike Shanahan summoned Marshall into his office and told him he would be in the game plan as the No. 3 receiver.
Marshall was so excited, he left Shanahan's office and began calling everyone he knew.
He ventured to an electronics store to buy a home theater system for his bedroom, replete with 42-inch flat screen and satellite speakers.
The purchase was a bit of gamesmanship straight out of his father's motivational handbook.
"I bought this TV, but it's not paid for," he said. "So when I get out there on the field, I can't drop that ball. I've got to know where to line up. It was kind of something mentally to play with me throughout the week and prepare myself in meetings.
"I had to pay for that TV."
Marshall's season then took off.
He had at least one 13-yard catch in six of the final seven games, including one for 33 yards against the Chargers and a tackle-busting, 71-yard touchdown Dec. 3 against the Seattle Seahawks.
"You could see his potential just soar," Shanahan said at his season-ending news conference. "So, hopefully, he does the little things the right way in the offseason, because the sky's the limit relative to talent."
But the line between right and wrong became blurred during the next several months.
Wrong place, wrong time
Shortly after the Broncos were eliminated from the playoffs with an overtime loss on New Year's Eve against the San Francisco 49ers, Marshall was among some players at a party at Shelter nightclub.
He might have been involved in a scuffle outside the party that preceded the shooting death of teammate Darrent Williams.
Marshall agreed to participate in a charity basketball game put on by Broncos running back Damien Nash in St. Louis in February. Shortly after the game, Nash collapsed and died.
"Growing up in football and Pop Warner, it teaches you perseverance and how to cope," Marshall said last week at the start of passing camp. "It's one of those things where you rely on your teammates and your family around you to get you through it.
"You're going to have your days and your moments where you get down, but that's life. We all go through it. It's life."
Marshall's eventful offseason wasn't over.
Police were called March 26 to his Highlands Ranch apartment after Watley told Douglas County sheriff's deputies Marshall used a car to block a taxi she had called and punched the cab's windows.
Marshall spent a night in jail and still faces charges of domestic violence and false imprisonment.
The Rocky Mountain News has learned charges likely will be dropped before the next court date.
But Marshall isn't naive enough to believe the episode won't color some people's perceptions about him.
Marshall has denied he's a "thug" or "gangster" and said he let his emotions get the best of him.
"It's considered deviant behavior to get arrested, to be involved in something that's bad," Marshall said.
But, he added, "It's just one of those things where you get back on the field and you prove to the community and to the world who you are."
In Marshall's case, he's out to show he's a hard worker and future Pro Bowl performer, not a troublemaker.
"It's sad to say, but sometimes you have to bump your head or go through some things to actually learn," he said.
"So I'm glad it happened now rather than down the road in my career. And I can guarantee that I'll be on top of everything from here on out."
Carter becomes tutor
The Broncos probably won't worry from a preparation standpoint, as Marshall's workouts in Florida proved.
A large majority of athletes who prepare for the scouting combine at the FAST facility disappear after reaching the pros, only to realize two to three years later the work ethic necessary to stick around long term.
"It lets you know at least that his thinking is in the right place," said Carter, second all time in the NFL in receptions who opened the training complex in 1997.
Marshall first met Carter as a senior in high school and has worked with him the past three years.
The former Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles receiver primarily has coached Marshall on being more disciplined in route running, tutored him on the level of attention it takes to perfect the craft and shown him methods to having softer, more reliable hands.
"I think he's growing," Carter said before news of Marshall's arrest broke. "He has a ways to go, of course. And realizing there's an opportunity and taking advantage of an opportunity, there's a big difference there."
Carter said the biggest challenge Marshall faces from a playing perspective isn't physical.
Instead, it's the expectation level and accountability from coaches and teammates that will increase the more involved Marshall becomes in the offense.
"Those are the things that would concern me more than anything else," Carter said.
As Marshall left the FAST complex in March, his abs sore, he jumped into his Toyota FJ Cruiser and launched into a speech about the importance of swagger to a receiver. It's a quality he said he stresses in talks with kids, including his younger brother. And it's a trait he admittedly lost when he was hurt as a rookie.
Just then, Marshall realized something. He had left his well- worn college hoodie at the training center.
There's nowhere to hide now.
A positive sign for the Broncos is Marshall didn't seem to care.
"I'm not working to be a starter or the third receiver or just to make the Denver Broncos' depth chart," he said. "I'm working to be the best receiver in the NFL. I'm not working to replace a guy or be the No. 1 on a team. I want to be the No. 1 receiver picked for the Pro Bowl. And I want to play on Super Bowl Sunday."
Height: 6-foot-4 3/4.
Weight: 230 pounds.
College: Central Florida.
Born: March 23, 1984.
Acquired by Broncos: Fourth-round draft choice (119th overall), 2006.
2006 highlights: Had 20 catches for 309 yards, including a 71-yarder for a touchdown to help tie the score Dec. 3 against Seattle. . . . Made three catches for 21 yards Nov. 23 at Kansas City. . . . Had a team-high four catches, for 65 yards, Dec. 24 against Cincinnati in first start.Source: Denver Broncos
|05-21-2007, 03:22 AM||#2|
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Arcadia, CA
Damn good piece by Lee Rasizer, maybe one of the best of the offseason.
|05-21-2007, 03:40 AM||#3|
Draft Defense Early&Often
Join Date: Oct 2004
You can tell he had the piece wrote before Marshall got in trouble. I can see Lee bangin his head on the table after he heard Marshall had gotten in trouble and he would have to rewrite his story.
|05-21-2007, 05:59 AM||#4|
helmet to helmet hitter
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Arlington, TX
I love the fact that he's working with Chris Carter. He may or may not start this year, depending on Rod's health and performance, but this kid's going to be a stud before much longer. I can't wait to see an improving Cutler working with these guys.
|05-21-2007, 06:30 AM||#5|
A new beginning!
Join Date: Aug 2006
Watermock - RIP
Great story, glad to see he is working his tail off. As for the misdemeanor we all lose our temper just some do it in the wrong place at the wrong time. That and I quickly learned never punch inanimate objects they always win. Great read!
|05-21-2007, 06:51 AM||#6|
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Hot Springs, Ouachitah
I'm no huge Chris Carter fan even tho he played for the HornHeads...he was a complete dick and Buddy Ryan kicked him off the team before he came to Minnesota.
Something still just rubs me wrong with him.
|05-21-2007, 12:32 PM||#7|
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Villa La Angostura
Great read. I can't wait to see what he does this season. This guy is going to be gooood.
|05-21-2007, 12:43 PM||#8|
RIP Darrent Williams
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Glendale, AZ
awesome read. TY Socal.
I cant wait to see how this guy performs in year 2, NO SOPHMORE SLUMP!!
|05-21-2007, 02:13 PM||#10|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Phoenix, AZ
|05-21-2007, 04:00 PM||#11|
highly touted recruit
Join Date: Mar 2006
brandon marshall is a pimp. baller thru and thru. he is gonna be a monster.
|05-21-2007, 04:10 PM||#12|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Mar 2006
7-8 percent body fat! if he keeps up like that he is gonna be ripped like Shannon Sharpe was, i remember during the 97 season it was said SHapre's body fat percentage was at like 6 percent.
|05-21-2007, 06:09 PM||#13|
Anybody want a peanut?
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Ceti Alpha V