Marshall Ready for NFL Europe Season

The NFL Europe season is set to begin and Keyonta Marshall is looking at it as a chance to show the Eagles just what he can do as he looks for more playing time stateside in the near future.

Defensive tackle Keyonta Marshall, who was one of the Eagles' seventh-round picks last season, is set to play in NFL Europe this season. To say the least, Marshall is excited about the opportunity. "I can't wait," he said. "I want to get on the field and get into a rhythm and play football again. I haven't played much."

The 6-foot-1, 325 pounder played his first game in the NFL last October after spending the first month of the season on the practice squad. Talk about making an impact; Marshall's first play was a big one. The Cowboys had the ball at the Eagles one yard line and it was fourth down. Julius Jones looked to fight his way into the end zone and Marshall was one of the birds that flocked to stop him. Marshall went on to record two solo tackles in that game.

The game against Dallas was the only game that Marshall saw action in and he was actually activated for just two other games last season. He's hoping that will change in 2006 and with the Eagles looking to find a new identity of defense, there may be a shot for Marshall.

Marshall has a tough climb to full-time duty in the NFL, especially since he comes from a small college program - Grand Valley State - and hasn't faced a lot of big-time competition. The NFL Europe season, which begins today, will give him the opportunity to get back on the field and continue his climb toward more playing time with the Eagles. Marshall has been working on his conditioning and size since being drafted, putting on about 25 pounds and working on getting stronger. His smaller frame was okay for the college competition that he faced, but he needed the added size to compete in the NFL. There's not much that Marshall can do about his 6', 1" size, but with work he could fit in well, especially in a 3-4 defense where he could serve as a nose tackle.

The Eagles knew when they drafted Marshall that he was a bit of a project, but they're committed to sticking with him. The fact that he saw any time last season, especially in a key fourth-and-one spot against the Cowboys, shows that they're willing to take a look at what he can do. In the not too distant future, the Eagles believe that they could see Marshall develop into the likes of Kendrick Clancy, who just left the Giants to sign with Arizona as a free agent. The Eagles had shown some initial interest in Clancy, but were unable to get him signed before the Cardinals grabbed him. Clancy is also a little undersized, but has made a decent name for himself in the NFL.

Marshall's Hamburg Sea Devils open their NFLE season against the Cologne Centurions, who feature Eagles players Brandon Pinderhughes (cornerback) and Edward Simms (wide receiver). The Sea Devils feature tight end Jonas Crafts in addition to Marshall.

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