FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Brandon Marshall exonerated Geno Smith on "Fox & Friends'' on Monday morning, saying the Jets quarterback "did nothing wrong'' last week and that he didn't stick his finger in the face of Ikemefuna Enemkpali before Smith got KO'd for 6-10 weeks with a broken jaw.
Now the outspoken receiver was facing the New York media after Tuesday's practice at training camp, being pressed repeatedly about backing Smith this week but not last week, when those words might have carried more weight.
"I guess I've got to use my skills that I learned at McLean Hospital when I spent three months in an outpatient program,'' Marshall said, smiling and starting to take deep breaths, keeping his cool in the 90-plus heat with a large pack of reporters around him under a tent.
Marshall, who was treated for borderline personality disorder at that Massachusetts hospital in 2011, wasn't backing down from his words on national TV about Smith: "What I say, my word is bond.''
But he wasn't feeding the frenzy anymore, either. This is the new Brandon Marshall, available to the media but cautious, he says. He had his firestorms during three seasons in Chicago and ended up being traded to the Jets after last season.
"There's a perception out there of me,'' Marshall said. "Some of it's true; some of it isn't. I want to win and I don't want my words to be a distraction to this team.''
The five-time Pro Bowl honoree wasn't as forthcoming last week after witnessing the shocking scene in the locker room. The Fox interview was supposed to be a promotion for his mental health foundation. But the questioning turned to the punch that rocked the Jets.
"That was a hot topic and it came up,'' Marshall said. "I felt like it was an environment where the people who were watching could see my exact words.''
He just said "yep'' Tuesday when asked if Smith still can be a viable starter when his jaw heals. Marshall also wasn't interested in renewing his old verbal war with new Giants safety Brandon Meriweather ahead of the Aug. 29 exhibition game between the teams.
"We do have a history,'' Marshall said. "We're kind of from the same town. I'm kind of excited about this opportunity for him. He's an Orlando guy and I always want to see those guys do well.''