Marshall’s streak went all the way back to his youth days in Los Angeles and reached a perfect 100 consecutive games as a pro – 80 with the Carolina Panthers and 16 with the Arizona Cardinals. So not being able to suit up at all and having to watch from the sidelines and then from home after being placed on Injured Reserve on November 8th was quite the challenge. He wasted no time having surgery to repair two ruptured disks in his back and has been rehabbing aggressively since.
“It was bad for me during the season just being out there watching games and not being able to play,” said Marshall, who managed one interception and 17 tackles (all solo) in his limited action. “But right now I’m at a moment in my life where I know what I have to do to get back healthy and get back right and that was first of all getting the surgery and now working on getting my strength back. I’ve been running around and lifting weights again so just getting back into the groove of things has been more helpful than just sitting out and not doing anything.”
When Marshall was signed as a free agent one year ago he was looked at as a skilled veteran that could bring leadership to a young secondary and the ability to make big plays. He has 18 career interception and seven career sacks, with five seasons of at least three interceptions to his credit.
Shortly after the Dolphins traded cornerback Vontae Davis to the Indianapolis Colts, Marshall started to live up to those expectations, especially during Miami’s 23-20 overtime loss at home to the New York Jets at Sun Life Stadium. He had an interception that he returned seven yards, three passes defensed and five solo tackles – and that came one week after he injured his back at home in a 35-13 rout of the Oakland Raiders.
As disappointed as he was to land on the IR and miss the remainder of the season, Marshall continued to sit in on the defensive backs meetings and when the team was on the road he texted his teammates to with them luck and pass on any knowledge of the opposition. He is looking forward to growing even more under defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle and raising the level of play in the secondary.
“I love this system because he lets us be aggressive out there,” Marshall said. “I’m an aggressive player and I like to get in there and mix it up and put my hands on receivers and not just come up and tackle. That’s some thing that he wants us to so it works in my favor.”
The enthusiasm in Marshall’s voice is clearly representative of his desire to play and to not have to watch from the sidelines again. He was further motivated by the run the Baltimore Ravens made in the playoffs, capping it off with a Super Bowl victory for veterans Ray Lewis and Ed Reed on the defense.
“It fired up me a lot but I was fired up the whole season just to be able to get on the field and actually be able to play,” said Marshall, whose last two seasons in Carolina (2010 and 2011) were his most productive (176 tackles and seven interceptions). “Missing the 12 games that I missed and not being out there playing because of the back injury was hard for me and hard to watch because I love the game of football and I love being out there with my teammates putting in work.
“Not being out there with them I felt like I wasn’t part of the team even though I was there talking to those guys and being with those guys every day. It was more about the fact that I wasn’t out there running around with those guys and sweating on the field. This summer I can’t wait to get back into training camp, get things rolling and get back on my feet. It was a test for me and it humbled me a lot.”