Brandon Marshall's decorated NFL career includes 959 receptions, 12,215 yards, and 82 touchdowns; he's a six-time Pro-Bowler and one of the most productive receivers of his era.
Yet for all he has accomplished in a career spanning 12 seasons with five teams, an act as simple as breaking the huddle with 10 teammates in an August practice made for a special moment for Marshall, an emotional one even.
Marshall took part in team drills Thursday for the first time in training camp, work that included a touchdown reception on a pass from Russell Wilson during red-zone drills, and doing even limited work was meaningful for Marshall, who at 34 and coming off of toe and ankle surgeries is trying to prove he can still make big contributions for an NFL team.
"I'm not going to lie to you guys, man," Marshall said. "Rehabbing can be a really challenging situation and this was one of the toughest things I've ever been through as an athlete. One, you got the 'I'm aging' part out there, and you got the self-doubt and self-talk creeping in. Then, production slips. You get cut. There's so much negative stuff happening while you're lying on the table trying to be able to walk again. So, yes, it's very difficult and the only thing that gets you over that hump is actually doing it and making those plays that you made in the past. Just being able to go out there and feel the grass the way I felt it before, my feet under me was special. Catching the ball, that's special. Being able to have a defender in front of you, that's special. I almost had tears in my eyes today being able to go in the huddle and break the huddle, just because of all the work that I've put in. I've been across the world trying to get healthy. I've been to Germany. I've been to London. I've been to Switzerland. I've been to Arizona. I've been in New York. I've been all over the damn place trying to get my damn feet right. Definitely ecstatic about feeling somewhat like myself today."
Marshall said following Thursday's practice that it was "the best I've felt in over a year," but he's still not all the way back. He needs to build up his conditioning, he said, and continue to work on his chemistry with Wilson—their first attempt at a red-zone connection ended in an incomplete pass because as Marshall put it, "we missed because I did a release that he wasn't used to." But as he works his way back, Marshall has every intention of proving not just that he can still survive in the NFL, but thrive as one of the league's best at what he does, though he also acknowledges that not everyone thinks he can get back to being that player.
"I'm that guy, I'm that aging football player, right?" he said. "So many years, I sat back and watched guys say 'Yeah, I got something left in the tank.' It's either you got something left in the tank or you don't. I mean, quarter tank, whatever. If you don't got a full tank then you can't play this game so I'm working my tail off to get 100 percent healthy and get out there and contribute in a major way. I'm not here to just be a guy. I'm here to be the beast that I've always been. I'm confident I'll be able to do that in the next couple weeks."
Practice photos from Day 6 of 2018 Seahawks Training Camp, presented by Safeway at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.