Brandon Marshall; “I think Tavon had a great offseason”


New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall has played for four NFL franchises in his ten years and counting in this league. Marshall will attempt break the 10,000 receiving yards threshold for his career this year in New York, and is looking to return to the Pro Bowl after earning those honors as recently as 2013. Marshall spent his offseason working out with St. Louis Rams wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. I had an opportunity to catch up with Brandon and talk about their progress.

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A lot of criticism has come of the Rams wide receiving corps heading into 2015, admittedly, some from this website. They lack a true number one threat that can really take the top off of opposing defenses. Ironically, Austin was drafted to be just that, but a slow start has hampered the enthusiasm that once surrounded the young wide out. We jumped on the topic pretty quickly.

"“I’m familiar with Tavon (Austin) and (Stedman) Bailey. I had the opportunity to work out with Bailey the last two years in the offseason and Tavon two years ago. I think Tavon gets it now. I think he had a great offseason this year and were starting to see that transition over to the practice field and game field.”"

Marshall also noted Bailey’s great work ethic.

"“Stedman, he’s just a hard worker. This guy, all he wants to do is run routes and do drills. He walks around with cones, literally. It’s cones in his hand and his son in his other hand. He’s a hard worker, so hopefully he has a break out year.”"

Aug 29, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Nick Foles (5) prepares to enter a huddle with teammates during the second quarter of a football game against the Indianapolis Colts at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

As we eluded to before, the life of an NFL quarterback becomes much easier with a true stand out talent on the offensive side of the ball. I asked Brandon if he was serious about the cones, he confirmed, and he surprised me with his answer for his pick for top offensive talent on the Rams.

"“I’ve always liked Nick Foles. I’ve really enjoyed watching him since his rookie year and he made it to the Pro Bowl (2013) and I remember warming up for the game and he was just standing on the 50 just throwing dimes in the corner of the end zone. Just standing there throwing the ball to wide receivers, and it was like wow, this kid has a gun.”"

Foles has been touted as somewhat of a messiah for St. Louis heading into 2015. However, there isn’t anything overwhelming about Foles. He doesn’t strike fear in opponents, like Ben Roethlisberger. He doesn’t command his offense with a dictionary of audibles like Peyton Manning, and he doesn’t have the rings like Tom Brady. So what is it then that separates him from the pack. Marshall had an answer for that too.

"“He’s a super cool dude, and he’s approachable, down to earth, so I think the guys in that locker room and that organization are going to love him and that’s what it’s about.” Marshall spoke about the trade and how it revealed a little bit more about the quiet quarterback. “I remember having a conversation with him this offseason and I asked him about the trade, I was like is this possible and he was like I’m clueless. But the thing that jumped out the most was the relationships he built with his teammates. It means a lot to him and if he continues to have that same approach guys are going to do everything they can to play for him and to put it all on the line.”"

We started to talk about what makes a player “elite.” What kinds of attributes do players that stand above the rest hold? For Marshall it was simple. It all boiled down to just a few things.

"“One, you’ve got to have skills, that’s obvious, and our job is to catch the ball and you got to have the number one attribute and that’s hands. Then the other big thing that sticks out is football IQ. You can be the fastest, you can have great hands but if you don’t understand coverage, if you don’t understand when to sit in the hole, when to run through it, you’ll never have a shot. It all comes down to those things and work ethic.”"

I asked if he saw those things in Austin.

"“I think that Tavon had a great offseason. I think that he took it to a whole other level, and that’s where it starts. You win your one-on-one match ups, you win your games in the offseason. And he took advantage of that; just look at his Instagram posts. Every other day he’s posting about his workouts. He really embraced that, and I think that he would say he’s happy with the work that he put in this offseason and the Rams organization would say the same.”"

The Rams will enter the beginning of the season with some new found hope placed squarely on the arm of Nick Foles and company. Foles will be called upon to do more with less at times, and maybe make a play or two with his legs. It’s promising to hear other wide outs in the league hold young players like Austin and Bailey in such high regard. We’ll need to hold out judgment though for once the season begins.