PHOENIX - Jets newly acquired wide receiver Brandon Marshall has a checkered past in previous stops with the Broncos, Dolphins and Bears, but first-year coach Todd Bowles believes he won't have any issues with his mercurial wideout.
On or off the field.
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"We think Brandon's still a top-flight receiver," Bowles said at a coaches' breakfast Tuesday at the NFL's annual spring meetings. The Jets acquired Marshall in a trade with the Bears earlier this month. "He's not just a big body. That's just part of it. His presence and the way he runs routes, he understands the game. He's a student of the game, he understands when he has small guys on him. He can get vertical when he needs to get vertical. He's a sharp route-runner. He has great hands. He knows how to block. He brings a work ethic and he brings a fire to us that we need on that side of the ball."
Bowles, a former Dolphins secondary coach and interim head coach, knew Marshall from their time together with the Dolphins and vouched for Marshall's character. The 31-year-old receiver was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and has become an advocate for people dealing with mental illness.
"Me and Brandon go back. We have real conversations," Bowles said. "The guy is so much more than I think what everybody's trying to paint him as. Everybody, if you look at their past, is going to have some shaky things going through it. But Brandon's come a long way, and the things he does with what he's doing right now, and the way he's come from Miami to Denver to Chicago to where he is now, I think he's at a great spot in his career to have a breakout year."
Bowles said he and Marshall "always talked off the field in practice and how we could get better and things like that" in Miami. "But not so much from a personal standpoint. It was more from a business and respect standpoint, and I think that's continued over the years. I vouched for him as well as a few other people in the building vouched for him . Brandon's a good guy. He works hard and he just wants to win.
"I think as a coach, when you have a player, especially somebody who gets in any kind of trouble, you want to see the growth of the person over the years," Bowles said. "We've seen Brandon mature over the years and become the man he is. And I think all those things have helped him become the man he is today."
Bowles said he doesn't have a problem with Marshall appearing on a weekly Showtime NFL program, which is taped on Tuesdays, the players' day off.
"If it doesn't interfere with his practice time, and we'll talk about it, his days off are his days off and I think he can do whatever he wants to do," Bowles said. "Brandon's smart enough to handle his professionalism. So we'll have a talk about that, but I have no problem with it."