"I'm healthy," he said. And, stopped. To Green's mind he'd offered all necessary information.
Of course that wasn't good enough for enquiring media minds. Green himself understands that given his health history this will remain the main topic of his preseason discussions. Not so much because anyone doubts his story; but because when full-go Green has shown his amazing play-making prowess. Sure, the 2010 Bulldogs scored eight of their nine victories after Green was sidelined by a knee injury, then surgery.
What they might have achieved-extra with him, though, tantalizes the MSU mind. As does how much Green could matter this senior season. So, sorry, Marcus, once again…how are you?
"I like to say I'm healthy," he said. "I'm healthy!"
OK, that's an encouraging start. Care to put a percentage on just how healthy? "Well, because it's still training camp I feel like I ain't at 100% yet. Game day, I'll be 100."
That will be very, very good opening-night news. Anyway, in practices open for outside observation Green has run—and cut, jumped, spun, whatever—without any obvious issues. The knee, damaged in the Auburn game, has had over ten months now to heal from the operation. Coach Dan Mullen took no chances with the talented tight end in spring camp, limiting Green to specific drills and no scrimmaging at all. Just how much he's scrimmaging this week, well, that's a good question.
Fact is Green almost welcomes the health questions right now because he's played only 16 games in three varsity seasons. His 2008 was cut short at two games, too, by a pelvic condition that ultimately was fixed by specialist surgery. Include his redshirt year, and he has watched the other 34 State contests from 2007-10. That is a whole lot of sideline time.
"To be honest, most people think it's been hard," Green said. "But just having a great team, great leadership on the team, that just encourages you; ‘Marcus we need you, get healthy, get stronger, we're praying for you'. So that's meant a lot, it made me stick around the team."
Mississippi State was sure to stick by Green, because on the—unfortunately few—games he's been healthy, he has been a genuine game-changer. He'd barely arrived on campus in summer 2007, a touted, fast, and physical running back, and the then-MSU staff was measuring him for tight end. Mullen maintained the move and in 2009 Green put on a show with 27 catches, 306 yards, and three touchdowns. Frustrated fans won't be surprised at the reminder his '09 numbers were more than all State tight ends combined contributed in 2008.
Obviously the '10 Bulldogs made the best of things without a big-threat receiver at this blocking position. Oh, but what they have in mind now that Green is back…this is a 240-pounder who can beat any linebacker down the middle on fast routes, or just beat-up a safety forced to cover. By the way, Marcus, exactly how are you being used in the '11 schemes so far?
Another grin. "It all depends, on what the formation is. So I can't just say, each and every day is different things you know." We don't, and that is the point of course. Green isn't offering any tips on the gameplan that will end up in other locker rooms, such as how many passes he's thrown each practice day. "Maybe it's one, and maybe it's forty!"
Almost assuredly it is closer to the latter. Especially because this preseason the tight end corps is running short of practice route-runners with Kendrick Cook benched with a neck issue. Walk-ons Allen Tolbert and McKellar Proffitt help out in rush plays needing extra blockers. But come real receiving drills, Green is the only tight end in town that has caught a college pass.
Not, he said, that it will take long for a couple of redshirted wide receivers who have converted to this position to get their first grabs. It has been an excellent preseason for both Brandon Hill and Malcolm Johnson, he said.
"Well, I think a lot of those boys. They're just young right now, they need a lot of guidance so that's what I'm here for. To encourage them, show them how to work, how we grind, how we do it at Mississippi State." And when Green says grind, he means it. In anticipation of their first real off-day of camp, the Bulldogs were pushed on Friday and Saturday.
"Yeah, we worked real hard," he said. But good, too, most of the time. His head coach had some critical Saturday comments but from Green's perspective things are right on August track. "Chris is throwing the ball well, the defense running to the ball, just getting better each and every day. One day at a time."
"The main thing we want to do is go out there and cheer each other on. It's not no individuals, it's a team thing."
True, but progress is an individual matter even for an old Dog. And these days Green is feeling his years, in a sense. Not in the body, which is a taught 240 still. So taught that away from the rest of the lineup some still mistake him for a true lineman. It's actually an oddity that Green with that broader chest and stocky shoulders weighs five pounds less than his quarterback.
"I think it's more his height, he's 6-4. I'm probably"…Green pauses…6-1." We won't argue. And no matter what the scale says Green delivers a blocking blow to match most 300 pounders, which is why he will often line up with a hand on the ground just like an interior lineman. But getting back to this attitude of age?
"It's more experience. I've got more level head, I'm more grown-up. That's the thing about getting hurt, and humbling yourself and just trying to get back to doing the basics." Because when the game can be taken away at any unexpected point, a fellow appreciates what it takes to play this game more.
"It's whatever helps the team win, you know. I'm just all about the team."
And that, folks, is enough questions for one day. Well, maybe another…having exhausted the health angle, is Green sure he won't offer a few previews of coming 2011 attractions for this full-speed Mississippi State offense? Nice try.
"I don't know, we'll have to see! I can't give no clues! You'll have to see!"