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Lunch Break - Easy win for Birds?
Curtis Marsh played just 13 snaps with the Bengals before being released Oct. 1 (USA Today Images)
When the Eagles released him a week before the season opener, Curtis Marsh figured he’d be back eventually.
He kept his apartment in Philly, he continued seeing his trainer in South Jersey, and even when the Bengals signed him on Sept. 18, he kept his residence here, assuming at some point he’d be back with the Eagles.
And here he is.
Marsh, the Eagles’ third-round pick in 2011, was released by the Bengals on Oct. 1 and re-joined the Eagles this week, taking the roster spot that opened up when the Eagles traded defensive lineman Isaac Sopoaga to the Patriots last week.
Marsh adds special teams ability and cornerback depth during a week that starting corner Bradley Fletcher is banged up.
Really, it almost seems like he never left.
“I was never discouraged,” Marsh said. “A guy like me, I’m not practice-squad eligible. I have to be on the active roster, and once a couple weeks go by in the season, it’s hard. Guys have to get hurt, things have to happen for you to get an opportunity.
“It’s not necessarily if a team likes you or thinks you can play or not, it’s about their system, their scheme, and it’s hard to bring in new players and put them on their active roster right way, and I knew that.
“So I was just trying to stay ready. I didn’t lose confidence or didn’t get discouraged. I knew I was going to get another opportunity, and I was hoping it would be back home in Philadelphia.”
Marsh played in 22 games for the Eagles, mainly on special teams, in 2011 and 2012.
But he fractured his hand in the Carolina preseason game and missed a few weeks, which killed whatever chance he had of surviving final roster cuts. The Eagles released him injured on Sept. 1, adding corner Shuan Prater on waivers from the Bengals. Prater has since been released and replaced with Roc Carmichael.
“I’ve just been staying in shape, eating right and staying prepared,” Marsh said. “You have to be disciplined when you’re waiting for a team to call. It takes a lot of self-discipline to eat well every day, making sure you’re working out, keeping your strength, your explosion. I had to work on my 40-yard dash time, because when you work out for teams they want you to run the 40.
“You have to believe in yourself and be confident that you’re going to get another opportunity, and you don’t know when it’s going to be, so you have to always be ready.”
The Bengals signed Marsh in mid-September with Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick both hurt, then released him 2½ weeks later to make room for linebacker Michael Boley.
Marsh got into two games with the Bengals and got 13 snaps on special teams and then he was gone.
“I felt like I did a good job while I was there,” he said. “I enjoyed my time in Cincinnati and I'm really thankful for the opportunity they gave me. Tremendous organization, and Coach [Marvin] Lewis was awesome to me. But glad to be back here and trying to make the most of it.”
Marsh knows he’s back here on a week-by-week basis, and that’s fine with him.
He’s just looking for any opportunity to prove he can play in this league.
The Eagles’ only other backup corners are Brandon Boykin, whom the Eagles love in the slot but try to limit outside, and Carmichael, a former fourth-round pick of the Texans who’s competed pretty well so far when he’s gotten reps.
The positive with Marsh is that he can play right away if he has to. He spent the entire offseason with the Eagles and doesn’t need a learning period.
“That's one of the benefits of having a guy that you signed that you can run and compete,” defensive coordinator Billy Davis said. “He almost made the team, so he was very close -- one of the last cuts. We have a lot of confidence in Curtis, and he knows the system. And that's a big benefit to someone who might have been out there on the street that doesn't know the system.
“He may very well have to go out and play a lot of snaps against Green Bay [Sunday], and we have to have someone that understands how we communicate and how the defense is structured.”
Marsh, 25, said it’s a lot easier for him back in Philly than it was in Cincinnati, where he had to learn defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer’s system almost overnight.
“It’s a huge advantage, because I know the calls, I know the hand signals, I know the techniques, I know the special teams techniques, I know everything,” Marsh said.
“There might be a few new things here and there that I have to learn, but if you hand me a gameplan, I’m going to be able to pick it up right away.
“There is no acclimation period. When I was in Cincinnati, I had to learn a whole new entire playbook really fast, and it’s a difficult thing. It’s easy when you get to practice it in camp and learn it and then go out on the field and do it, but when you have to learn it and know it right away it’s difficult.”