Eagles cornerback Curtis Marsh has had an interesting road to his fourth NFL season. The former college running back-turned-cornerback was taken in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft and was forced to quickly learn his somewhat new position at the next level. After two years of mostly special teams work, Marsh was cut by the Eagles in 2013. He signed with Cincinnati, but his stint with the Bengals lasted just two games and he re-signed with the Eagles shortly after being released.
For Marsh, his tough journey has served as motivation. The 26-year-old defensive back has put his past behind him and he is now one of the most-talked-about competitors in Eagles training camp. Marsh has been extremely active in practice and has been a pass deflecting machine this off-season. His improved play has caught the eyes of fans and media alike, as he has worked to lock up an elusive roster spot.
Marsh is having his best off-season to date, which likely could be attributed to his attitude and familiarity with the defense. The veteran was forced to play in three different defenses in his first three seasons, but has finally been able to get comfortable as Billy Davis heads into his second year as a coordinator.
With Marsh on the rise, the fourth-year player sat down with BGN's Mike Kaye before Friday's preseason game against the Patriots to discuss his improved performance in training camp and his role on the team.
Mike Kaye: So let's talk about your off-season. The Eagles brought in Nolan Carroll and drafted Jaylen Watkins, so you knew you were going to have some serious competition this summer. Did you come into camp with a different mindset this season or train differently?
Curtis Marsh: Every year is going to be competitive. They always try to bring in guys to compete. They are always trying to bring in guys that are bigger [and] better than you are in their minds and they want to create an environment of competition. So every year is the same mindset. I think just this year, another year of experience was able to prepare me so I could prepare even better. [That's why] I feel like this is the best off-season I've ever had.
I trained in the weight room. I [did] a lot of speed training drills. I did them like four times a week and I got in a little bit of boxing and a little bit of basketball for conditioning. I just felt really good going into OTAs and [training] camp and to have such a competitive environment like that, it enables you to play more aggressively and kind of let it loose out there because you have less to lose.
Everybody is so competitive, everybody is so close, so I think it's a positive. You get the best out of yourself and the best out of your teammates that way.
MK: You've been through a lot in your career already with several coordinators, really having to learn your position, going to the Bengals and so on. How has that motivated you this off-season and how has that experience made you a better player?
CM: It's all motivation. When you get doubted by anybody that's an administrator, like coaches [saying] "You're not good enough or you're not ready. Those are the bottom lines." I never believed in things like that and things like that motivate me and make me better, because my beliefs are that I can be the best and that if I continue to do what I do every year [then] I will be the best. That just adds fuel to the fire.
MK: What has it been like having another year in a defense after having to deal with several changes over the last few years? Has that helped you?
CM: Yeah. You can definitely tell having a year in the defense and coming back and re-learning it. It definitely does help. Being in the same defense two years in a row, you definitely have a better understanding. You're able to play faster and play with anticipation and play as a unit. Those are all positives and help your defense.
MK: The defensive backs in general seem like a better overall unit this season. Can you talk about how cohesion and an influx of some veterans has helped the back of the defense?
CM: We're a tight knit group. All of those guys are like brothers. They are awesome dudes. Cary [Williams], [Bradley Fletcher], [Brandon Boykin], Nolan [Carroll], Jaylen [Watkins] are all pretty cool guys and we enjoy being around each other, each and every day. We know the realities of the business. We come into work as professionals and we compete every day, but we [also] laugh and joke around and have fun together every single day, so it's great. We help each other get better. We ask each other questions and help each other get better.
MK: You guys practiced with the Patriots this week. How has that helped you get ready for the season?
CM: It's great because I treat it just like a game. It's just like a game [because] you're on film. You've got other coaches and other scouts looking at you. You have the media out there and it's an extremely competitive environment. You're out there with another group of 90 guys that are fighting for roster spots as well, so you're getting the most out of your competition and it's been great because it's basically like a game simulation. It gets me prepared for [the second preseason game] because I am going against the same personnel and the same looks and I am going against a quality team and it helps you prepare for what the regular season is going to be like. [You see] what the grind is going to be like and how intense the game play is going to be.
Make sure to tune into BGN Radio during this weekend's "Preseason Game Review Show" to hear the entire interview. Marsh discusses the league's new premium on "illegal contact" penalties and how that impacts a cornerback's game. He also discusses the young offensive player that he has been most impressed with this summer.