Brandon Marshall wasn’t going to sit back and let Odell Beckham Jr. get all the glory.
“I want my little moment, too,” he said after Tuesday’s practice, “so I tried to make me a little Odell one-hand catch.”
Tried and accomplished. In 7-on-7 red-zone drills Eli Manning lofted a fade to the end zone, and Marshall caught it over his shoulder with his right hand while fending off cornerback Eli Apple with his left. Touchdown.
It wasn’t as crazy as the catches Beckham has been making in practices the past few days — “It will probably make the top 20, not the top five,” Marshall said of his grab’s place in the highlight-reel hierarchy — but it was a subtle reminder that Beckham isn’t the only playmaker on the Giants’ roster.
Marshall seemed to be reminding Beckham and the rest of the football-watching world of that a lot Tuesday. He raced Beckham in wind sprints.
“I’m going to push him every chance I get,” Marshall said. And he talked about Beckham giving him advice on technique during their first training camp together. “Sometimes I want to say, ‘Bro, you know I’m going on 12 years in the league, why are you talking to me about where my eyes and my hands are?’ ”
But getting to play with Beckham is actually one of the reasons Marshall is here. He signed with the Giants as a free agent this offseason knowing he would have to take a bit of a back seat for the first time in his career. The payoff for that concession, though, may be more important. Marshall has never been to the playoffs in his career.
Getting to the destination is the most important thing, not worrying about who drove.
Wide receivers are often thought of as loners. They are literally split out away from the rest of the team. When the ball is in the air, there are no teammates who can help them.
Yet Marshall said he learned at an early age — his first days as a receiver, after playing running back throughout his childhood — that his position is not about being a soloist. It was his uncle Kenny Times, who played two NFL seasons as a nose tackle in the 1980s, who first told him that.
“It was probably around 7:30, the lights were on, we were playing street football,” Marshall said, “and he said, ‘Let me teach you something: If you want to play wide receiver, you have to realize that you’re only as great as the guy on the other side of you.’ And I’ve always had that mentality.”
Throughout his career, Marshall often has had a good wingman. He had Javon Walker and Eddie Royal in Denver, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett in Chicago, and Eric Decker with the Jets.
“You want a dog on the other side if you’re a No. 1 receiver because if you’re the only guy that can play, [the defense] is going to double and triple you, and it’s going to be hard to get the ball,” Marshall said.
Now, though, Beckham is the No. 1. Marshall is the dog on the other side. He said he will handle it well. So long as the team is doing well.
“Obviously, guys want to do some things as an individual,” Marshall said. “But at the end of the day, when you’re winning, you realize that eventually it will swing back your way and you’ll be happy. We’ll be fine, and when our egos get out of check, we’ll just reel each other back in.”
Until then, Marshall and the rest of the Giants receivers will go about their business in Beckham’s shadow.
“They’re overlooked because we have ‘13’ on the other side, and he makes SportsCenter’s Top Five every day,” Marshall said of his big plays in camp, the boring two-handed catches, the mundane touchdowns. “You won’t see what Sterling Shepard and Evan [Engram] are doing and myself. We have been making some plays all around, and it’s fun because when you have a special talent like [Beckham] on the other side, it brings the competition level up. We even challenge each other in our room.
“When you have one of the best players ever,” Marshall said, “he makes everybody on the team great.”