How Broncos DT Terrance Knighton 'saved' LB Brandon Marshall’s football 'life'
Monday, October 27, 2014 8:03pm
Editor's note: Catch Monday Night Madness with Terrance Knighton at 5:30 p.m. in The Locker Room with Nate Kreckman live from Dave & Busters throughout the football season. Tune in on 1023 and 1055 ESPN or listen online at ESPNDenver.com.
By Johnny Hart
It was in late August last year when the Jacksonville Jaguars released linebacker Brandon Marshall during the club’s training camp roster cut down.
Marshall, who had been a fifth-round draft pick by Jacksonville in 2012, had played five games for the Jaguars the previous season, though he spent much of that season on the team’s practice squad.
It was a fate he would be facing again. But this time, Marshall had other suitors. The Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos both wanted him to join their practice squads also.
At first Marshall, who joined teammates Terrance Knighton and Nate Irving in The Locker Room this week for Monday Night Madness, said he thought about going to the team where he could become “active the fastest.”
“I knew Denver’s stacked, but Oakland and Jacksonville weren’t as talented as Denver. So maybe I’d be able to get up faster,” Marshall said.
But a call to Knighton, his former Jaguars teammate who’d signed with Denver before the 2013 season, would change the “route” his career would take, which he said “proved better” in the long run.
Marshall said Knighton didn’t make any promises, but that if he came to Denver instead of Oakland and worked hard, “good things will happen.”
“So I said, ‘Alright, you know what? I’ll come. I’m going to hop on this plane,’” Marshall said.
Much like his rookie year in Jacksonville, Marshall spent most of the regular season on the Broncos practice squad.
That is until Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller tore his ACL in Week 16 and the second-year linebacker was promoted to the active 53-man roster.
“There are teams in this league that the practice squad is just the practice squad,” Knighton said. “But the good thing about here is you could be the next at-bat.”
And both Marshall and Knighton agreed that Broncos organization, from the top down, makes players feel like at any time they can be called upon to step into a playing role.
During Denver’s Week 4 tilt with the Philadelphia Eagles, Marshall –– inactive for the game –– said head coach John Fox gave him words of encouragement, that he’d get his chance sooner or later.
“I was just standing on the sideline in my jumpsuit, and he comes up to me and says, ‘Don’t worry Brandon. Just keep working. You’re going to get your shot,’” Marshall said.
“He said that to me, and it meant something to me because he has a game to coach. We’re in the middle of a game, the game’s not over, but he comes to a practice squad player and says that. That just shows the type of coach that he is and the type of man that he is.”
Thirteen weeks after that conversation with his head coach, on Christmas Eve, Marshall would be promoted to the active roster.
Five weeks after that he’d play in Super Bowl 48.
This season, Marshall’s proven to be the next man up in the wake of a pair of leg injuries suffered by linebacker Danny Trevathan –– a fractured shin in preseason that kept him out until Week 5 and a cracked bone in Week 6 that landed him on injured reserve-designated to return.
Marshall has made the most of his playing time this season, starting in six of seven games and notching the most tackles (43) on the Broncos roster.
Knighton said it’s that winning atmosphere the Broncos organization has created –– starting from general manager John Elway down through Fox and veteran players like Peyton Manning and DeMarcus Ware to younger players –– that allows players like Marshall to prove themselves worthy of roster spots.
“Everything is done at a championship level. Everything is done with winning around it.” Knighton said. “They take good care of us. They treat us like men. It’s like a family.
“… It just trickles down and makes everyone want to be great.”