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Eli's "pop quiz" teaching technique paying off


Brandon Marshall is continuing to excel in the offensive system

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Some of the most important lessons Brandon Marshall has learned in his first training camp with the Giants occurred not on the practice field or during a meeting, but in the locker room. That's where Eli Manning gives him what are essentially pop quizzes on the team's offense, and on the signals used to call plays at the line of scrimmage.

When Marshall met the media today at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center, it was immediately after one of his impromptu sitdowns with the 14-year quarterback.

"Literally 10 seconds ago, Eli walked in the locker room and took me through five minutes of just throwing things at me, seeing where I was," Marshall said. "So, he knows where I'm at and where I'm not at. He's challenging me every second he gets, so we'll be where we need to be come Week One."

How often do these exchanges occur?

"It's Eli Manning time," Marshall said. "It's whenever – it's weird.

"It's just real spontaneous. I mean, it's interesting. We may be talking about what type of cereal we're going to have, and he may just switch the subject to some type of football. Literally, we just got out of the shower, we had towels on, and he was pretty much half-dressed, and he started giving me signals."

Marshall needs the extra tutoring. Although the Giants are his fifth team – and though he has 941 career receptions – he has never played in an offense like the one Ben McAdoo has designed. The six-time Pro Bowler is still learning many of its nuances. At the same time, he has made significant progress since the offseason program.

"I feel really comfortable where I'm at right now," Marshall said. "Obviously, I'm not where I need to be, but where I was in OTAs and spring and summer wasn't a great place as far as feeling like a rookie, new terminology. But it wasn't even that. I've been in several offenses, had several quarterbacks, for some reason the way we do things here is really different. I've never really been in a no-huddle offense, the tempo is like learning a new language, because everything is this non-verbal communication. So that was difficult for me. But we stuck to it and I'm in a really comfortable place now. There's some things I still have to figure out."

McAdoo said Marshall, as well as first-round draft choice Evan Engram, are "still working to master the system." But he appreciates the effort the veteran receiver is putting in to make that happen.

"He's a tremendous communicator," McAdoo said. "Communication is not just a one-way street. It's a two-way street. There's input and there's output."

Marshall said he has had close working relationships with some of his previous quarterbacks, notably Jay Cutler in Chicago and Ryan Fitzpatrick with the Jets. But he's taken that collaboration to news levels with Manning.

"But this offense, a lot of (communication) is non-verbal, and with Eli, he's so detailed," Marshall said. "He's probably the most detailed quarterback I've been around. He knows what he wants and how he wants it. It took me up until two weeks ago to get this one route down. He threw a ball into the ground and I was two steps off. Literally two steps off, and he pulled me to the side and just kept coaching me and walking me through it. Any other quarterback, it would have been perfect, right? But with this guy, no, it's two steps. So, he's special – he's really detailed."

Marshall has also been getting advice from another renowned teammate. But Odell Beckham, Jr. is nine years younger and has played just three years in the league. Of course, he has 288 catches and been to the Pro Bowl in each of those seasons, and he's been in the offense, so Beckham has the credentials to help the more experienced Marshall.

"He's a coach; he really cares about his teammates," Marshall said. "A guy that may be a practice squad guy or a scout team guy, a guy that may be on the bubble, he's pulling them to the side and coaching them up. He coaches me up. 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 the guy knows the game, he cares about his teammates, and really he's a coach out there. He really understands the game, and I appreciate him trying to get us all better."

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