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Trey Marshall on Broncos not drafting a safety: 'I need to step up even more'

Team didn't draft or add free agent at safety position until signing an undrafted rookie.
Credit: AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
Broncos defensive Back Trey Marshall playing in an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in Denver.

DENVER — Drew Lock was a Broncos draft winner because of the new talent the quarterback received at the receiver and tight end positions.

Left tackle Garett Bolles and inside linebacker Todd Davis were winners because the Broncos didn’t draft players at their position.

Another Broncos offseason winner: Trey Marshall. With the departure of Will Parks to Philadelphia, the Broncos didn’t replace him through free agency or the draft. That means the Broncos’ brain trust showed confidence that Marshall, who started the final two games last season in place of the suspended Kareem Jackson, can handle the Broncos’ No. 3 safety.

“Yes, I talked to them before the draft and they said they wouldn’t take a safety,’’ Marshall said Monday in a Zoom interview with 9News. “That let me know I need to step up even more.”

The Broncos did sign undrafted safety Douglas Coleman III to a $5,000 signing bonus. Marshall knows better than to dismiss $5,000 undrafted rookies.

Undrafted out of Florida State two years ago, the Broncos gave Marshall a modest $5,000 signing bonus as a college free agent. Among the undrafted Broncos who got bigger bonuses in 2018: Lowell Lotuleli ($15,000), Jeff Holland ($15,000), Phillip Lindsay ($15,000) Leon Johnson ($10,000), Jimmy Williams ($10,000) and John Diarse ($8,000).

Only Lindsay and Austin Schlottmann, who also got a $5,000 bonus as an undrafted rookie in 2018, are still with the team. Marshall spent most of his 2018 rookie season on the practice squad before he was called up to the big squad to play in the final two games.

Last year he played primarily special teams until filling in a couple games for the injured Parks and then for Jackson.

“I think I did pretty good,’’ said Marshall, who was aided by second-team All Pro Justin Simmons as his safety partner. “A couple things I wish I could have gone out there and did but overall I think I did good enough to where we didn’t take another safety. It’s just time to take it to another level.”

Credit: KUSA

Jackson believes Marshall is ready to join him and Justin Simmons along the Broncos' back line.

“I think he is,'' Jackson said in his Zoom video interview with the Denver media Tuesday. "With me being out those last two games, I think he stepped in. I think he did some good stuff. I think he showed some signs. With him playing the way he did those two games, that would probably be the reason we didn’t sign or draft anybody.

"I’m very confident in what he can do. He has a ton of talent. I think he showed that in the last two games. Going into Year 3, I think for him it’ll be great. He can go into camp and take some more steps and show some more signs so everybody else can be confident around him. I think he’s ready for that role.”

For his critical third season in 2020, Marshall has been hanging out at mom’s place in Lake City, Florida where he grew up. It’s an hour straight west of Jacksonville, an hour south of the Georgia border.

“The only time I leave the house -- I really order groceries -- but whenever I need something small I put on my mask and go out,’’ he said. “But other than that I really don’t try to leave.’’

When it’s not raining, he gets in an outside workout in. If it’s pouring, as frequently happens in north Florida, he’ll get in an inside sweat.

Broncos strength coach Loren Landow sent all the players a workout routine.

“We got pretty much a day-to-day program and then whatever I feel like I’ve got to work on that day I add it to the program,’’ he said.

Broncos virtual team meetings started last week. They are mostly 1 ½-hour position meetings with a break in between.

“It’s not too bad, it goes by pretty fast,’’ Marshall said. “It’s pretty much the same as the classroom. “We can’t see each other but we’re talking to each other the whole time. We’re still doing pretty much the same learning that we had been.’’

Isn’t it difficult to concentrate on virtual meetings when the refrigerator or TV is a few steps away?

“Not at all. Not with (Ed) Donatell,’’ Marshall said about the Broncos’ defensive coordinator. “They can see us so if we’re not concentrating he’s going to call on us. So you’ve got to stay locked in the whole time. It’s constant communication the whole meeting.”

Still, there’s only so much preparation a virtual meeting can give a Broncos player who’s hanging out in Florida.

“I’m ready to go back to Denver,’’ Marshall said. “I was just talking to my old high school coach about it. There’s nothing like being out there, being on the field and actually practicing the plays and getting in a rhythm.”

Anyone living anywhere but beneath a rock during the virus shutdown noticed the flurry of roster moves the Broncos made this offseason. On defense, stalwarts Chris Harris Jr. and Derek Wolfe are gone but A.J. Bouye and Jurrell Casey are in.

“I think we got better,’’ Marshall said. “That’s my mindset -- take it to the next level.’’

On offense, the Broncos were extremely active, adding guard Graham Glasgow, running back Melvin Gordon, receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler, tight ends Nick Vannett and Albert Okwuegbunam and center Lloyd Cushenberry III.

“It was awesome,’’ Marshall said. “I loved it. We went and added speed. Young speed. We already had some good receivers but we added some young receivers who can go out there and run all type of routes, get open.

“And then in the running game you know Phil is going to produce. That’s my guy Phil. And then we’ve got Melvin so it’s going to be a show.”

So when does Marshall think he’ll be able to get out to Denver for in-person meetings or workouts?

“We’ve been talking, but no one is really sure about anything, especially with all this Covid that’s going on,’’ he said. “Now they’re saying there’s these new hornets flying around so I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m just hoping and praying.”

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