Originally brought in as free agent from the Arizona Cardinals last season, 28-year-old corner Richard Marshall was expected to come in and be a major contributor for defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle’s new defense.
A cornerback who wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and play press coverage, and known for his hard hitting style, Marshall was the perfect fit for a defense that looked to be all about wrecking havoc on receivers and causing turnovers in the defensive backfield.
But then disaster struck early on, with an injury that caused Marshall to be put on injured reserve after only totaling 17 tackles and one interception, and restricted him to only four games in his first season with the Dolphins. Marshall’s absence caused the Dolphins defensive backfield to become a patchwork effort, with a revolving door of players coming in and filling Marshall’s position.
To combat the same thing from happening this season, Miami didn’t just go out and add a player or two, they went out and revamped the entire defensive backfield, bringing in former Falcons corner Brent Grimes, and spending two early round draft picks on Boise State corner Jamar Taylor (second round) and Utah State corner Will Davis (third round). And now, with Marshall coming back, a position that looked barren towards the end of last season, especially after departure of former Dolphin Sean Smith, is now full.
With all that depth at the position, Marshall’s starting spot is no longer guaranteed. It’s an open competition, and the new rookies may be gunning for Marshall’s starting job. But the Fresno State product doesn’t see it that way.
“It doesn’t matter to me, I was once in their position. So, I understand coming in as a rookie and trying to learn. If you’re doing your job then you should not be worried about them coming in and taking your spot,” Marshall said. “You just need to help them out when they need help and you know it’s best for the team. I got hurt last year someone had to step in for me so you never know what can happen.”
In fact, Marshall has taken the rookies under his wing, much like former Panthers corners Chris Gamble and Ken Lucas did Marshall’s rookie year in Carolina.
“I watch those guys and talk to them whenever they make a mistake. Most of the time they come and ask you questions and you just need to be there for them,” Marshall said. “I remember when I was a rookie and it was hard going in and learning the defense and then coming out here and working. It is important that you let them know that you’re here for them if they have any questions.”
But when it comes down to it, it is a competition. Whoever plays the best will get the job, and the others will have to be prepared to come in and step up at any moment.
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