FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Brandon Marshall endured the pain of a second-quarter hit he took from Bills defensive back Stephon Gilmore last Thursday and later gawked at the picture of how his lower left leg bent out at a grotesque angle. He came away feeling lucky his career didn’t end right there.
Now the Jets’ premier wide receiver just wants to get back on the field Sunday in Kansas City.
“I feel pretty good,” Marshall said Monday after a one-hour practice session in which he did not participate. “Anything other than having surgery is a blessing. I smile and I keep looking at that and that play and I’m just so thankful that I’m able to be in this locker room preparing with the guys. I’m going into year 11, and I didn’t want it to end that way.”
Marshall said he did not undergo an MRI exam and added, “Structurally, we feel I’m OK.”
The fact that he returned from that hit and had four more receptions, giving him six for 101 yards, in the Jets’ 37-31 victory was a good sign.
“He’s tough,” coach Todd Bowles said. “If Brandon can play, he’ll play. I don’t know about the structural damage or anything like that, but he did a good job coming back in the game.”
Bowles declined to discuss the playing status of Marshall and fellow starting wide receiver Eric Decker, who has a sore shoulder, before the official injury report comes out Wednesday. But Bowles denied a report by Pro Football Talk that said Marshall has a sprained medial collateral ligament.
“That’s not what I was told,” Bowles said.
Asked directly if he has a sprained knee, Marshall smiled and said, “It was only a couple days ago. I’m no doctor, but I’m sure there’s something still in there.”
At the same time, Marshall’s condition improved over the weekend with the extra rest he was afforded after a Thursday night game. “I had a limp a couple days ago, and now I’m walking without a limp,” he said. “So that’s promising.”
If he is unable to practice, Marshall still hopes to play even if a decision must wait until pregame warm-ups on Sunday. The injury reminded him of his NFL mortality and how he got his break in his second season in Denver, in which he caught 102 passes after Rod Smith went down with an injury.
“I try to be relentless in my rehab, especially with Quincy [Enunwa] playing the way he’s playing and Eric Decker playing the way he’s playing,” Marshall said. “If I take any time off, I may not have a job.
“I hear Quincy saying, ‘I’m taking your spot.’ And I hear Decker saying, ‘I’m the guy.’ I can’t take any time off. I’m really like the third receiver. It’s awesome to see those guys playing at a high level, and it feels comforting for me knowing that it’s not all on me.”
As Marshall noted, second-year receiver Enunwa actually leads the Jets with 13 catches for 146 yards and Decker is the receiving yardage leader with 163 on eight catches. But Marshall (nine catches, 133 yards) remains the primary weapon on the outside as long as he’s healthy.
His worst fears rose up when he was lying on the field in pain after Gilmore’s awkward tackle.
“My knee and leg were twisted in so many different areas and ways that I not only thought my knee was messed up, but I thought my foot and everything was pretty much gone,” Marshall said. “I felt that way for a couple of minutes. I knew I was OK when I was able to get back on the field . . . Right now I’m feeling good and blessed to be standing here.”