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Driven By Denial

Posted Jun 28, 2010

CB Marshay Green plans to turn draft disappointment into NFL career

Cornerback Marshay Green runs sprints Monday morning at the Cardinals' Tempe facility with his fellow undrafted rookies.


The temperature isn’t quite 100 degrees – yet – but the sun is beating down and the sprints seem like they have already gone on forever.

Marshay Green’s effort doesn’t fade in the heat. Dressed in a tight black tank top and white compression pants, the undrafted rookie cornerback looks more like he is training for the Olympics than football.

He certainly isn’t thinking about anything but football.

“Camp.”

“Camp.”

“Camp.”

That is the word rattling around in Green’s brain, repeating while he runs. Sweating now means better opportunity in Flagstaff. He’s already been disappointed once. He doesn’t want it to happen again.

Green isn’t the first college player to go undrafted, nor the first to struggle to understand why. But few are crushed the way Green was crushed, to end up “depressed” when his name was never called, to lose sleep that night.

“It was dark for me,” Green said. “That was the worst day of my life as far as sports go.”

You score a state-record 98 touchdowns as a Louisiana prep star and then go on to start in the SEC and eventually attend the NFL Scouting Combine, it’s easy to understand why you’d think you’d get drafted.

(Easier than understanding the origins of his name. Green’s given name is Marcus but Grandma called him Marshay for some reason, and, well, what Grandma says goes.)

Green is 5-foot-9, originally a receiver at the University of Mississippi before being converted to cornerback after two seasons. He isn’t the prototypical height, and he knows that is a big reason for his draft day disappointment. His stats weren’t eye-popping – two interceptions in two years – but he was solid.

He could also return punts (9.9-yard average over his 93 collegiate runbacks) and, like cornerback, punt returner is an available job for the Cardinals. Those needs are why Green decided to sign with the Cards even as he was reeling from the draft.

With 86 players on the roster (six must be trimmed to fit all the draft picks once they sign), there are many hurdles to clear by September. He has caught a few eyes with his abilities. He is likely on even footing with fellow undrafted cornerback A.J. Jefferson, who has more of a prototypical size (6-0).

Not that size wipes out Green’s chances in Arizona anyway. Green can look down a few lockers and see a teammate like cornerback Michael Adams, who took his 5-foot-8 frame to the practice squad and eventually a contributing spot.

“He reminds me a lot of myself,” Adams said. “Coach (John) Lott came to me earlier this offseason and said, ‘I’ve got me another greyhorse.’ ”

That’s greyhorse as opposed to darkhorse. It’s a player Lott deems to be a better chance to make the roster than a long shot. It’s about work ethic and want-to, and Green certainly seems to have those, fueled by those who passed him by.

Once he was in the Cards’ locker room, Green felt he was where he was supposed to be. Eventually, he said, he understood it was time to go to work. To put aside his hurt.

But it lingers there, bouncing around in his head behind the thoughts of training camp and battling receivers like Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston.

“As long as I am in the league, I don’t care what contract I sign or how much I get paid,” Green said, “I will always use the draft as motivation.

“Every single day.”
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