He had a good feeling that day. Specifically, it was between the second and third play. Nevada was facing Grambling State and Marshall was making his starting debut after redshirting his first year.
For whatever reason, he just knew something good would happen on the next play. Knowing where his family was in the stands, Marshall pointed to his cousin. Grambling State then hiked the ball, and looked to pass. The ball was thrown, it was tipped and the next thing Marshall knew, it was in his hands. After a 22-yard return, the Wolf Pack took over on offense at Grambling State's 7-yard line.
But that was six years ago. In that time, Marshall was drafted by Jacksonville, waived and then picked up by the Broncos a year ago for the practice squad. After a year toiling in the background and fighting to stay in the league, Marshall will make his first career start.
The Colts present a different beast than Grambling State, as you might guess.
For Marshall, the key is preparation. He said after practice Thursday that he's glad to have the coaching staff's trust, and now his focus has turned to the game.
With Andrew Luck behind center on the other side of the line, Marshall has a big challenge. However, he's done his homework.
"You have to know his tendencies. He's more of a step-up type of quarterback instead of spinning out or running around like, say, a Kaepernick or Russell Wilson," he said. "You gotta know that. He does have a strong arm and he can run the ball. They don’t run a lot of read-option, but he will keep the ball if they actually get into it. So you just have to know his tendencies, what he likes to do."
That's easier said than done, but with the help of the revamped Broncos defense, they're poised to be better against the pass and the rush, which was already the seventh-best against the run last season.
"[Knighton] makes it real easy, because half the time he takes up two blockers. Half the time, you’re not going to single-block him. He has to demand a double-team. So with him right there, you can flow more freely and you don’t have to be so run-conscious. Just having him and Sly (
At this point, most of the preparation is done. Marshall knows his strengths and how they can plug into the defense. "I'm a playmaker, I always find myself around the ball," he said. "As long as I do my job, I'll be good."
The first game of the season is often a memorable one, offering young players a 'Welcome to the NFL' moment.
It's a game of refreshed beginnings, really. Aside from Marshall, there are plenty of starters making their first regular season starts since injuries sidelined them during last season, or their first regular season starts as Broncos, for some others. And for a few others, it's their first regular season game, period.
Though their roles might not be as big as the starters, young guys like cornerback
In this new look Broncos defense, a lot has changed and some major additions from the offseason will be making their debuts, too.
With Sunday Night Football in town for the prime-time game, the stage is bigger and brighter, which can make for a very memorable season opener for many players, especially the ones who are embarking on a new journey with a bigger role or in coming to a new team.