Patience is a virtue that Marshay Green neither learned or needed on his way to the NFL.
Inserted into the Bastrop High lineup as a freshman, Green went on to score a school-record 98 touchdowns in his four years as a running back/return specialist for the Rams.
College wasn't quite as easy, although he played in all 12 games, including one start, as a grayshirt freshman wide receiver at Ole Miss. Moving to cornerback as a junior, he became a fixture in the starting lineup, helping Ole Miss to back-to-back Cotton Bowl victories. His brightest moment at Ole Miss came in the 2008 Cotton Bowl when he returned an interception 65-yards for a touchdown and broke off a 54-yard punt return en route to earning the Defensive MVP award in the Rebels' win over Texas Tech.
Green's patience has certainly been tested since signing with the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent in 2010.
While he has managed to stick with the team as a practice squad player, he has yet to see action in a regular season game.
Needless to say, the past two years haven't been easy. Still, the possibility of being activated has kept the 5-10, 175-pound Green motivated.
“As a practice squad player, you have to prepare like you're playing on Sunday just like everybody else,” said Green, who returned to Bastrop this weekend to visit with his family and attend the Rueben Randle/Marshay Green Fun Day at Dotson Park last Saturday. “You have to stay ready because you never know when they are going to call you up to play on Sunday.”
So far, Green's efforts have yet to be rewarded. Despite being placed on the 53-man roster for the final six games of his rookie season, he has never suited up for a regular season game.
“Sure, it's been frustrating,” Green readily admitted of his practice squad duties. “I've always played.
I've never had to wait on anything. I've always gone in and started. At the same time, I can't let it bother me. I'm staying positive, pushing forward and going for it.”
What Green is “going for” is earning a spot on the active roster with the Cardinals for the 2012 season. He reports for training camp Tuesday, July 24 in Flagstaff, Ariz.
As an undrafted free agent, Green has faced an uphill climb. Professional sports teams tend to place more interest in athletes with larger contracts. It's simply the nature of the business.
“To tell you the truth, I thought I had done enough to make the squad the first two years,” Green said. “I understand that undrafted free agents have to do extra stuff. It's not always about talent — everybody in the NFL is talented. It's just part of the business.”
Don't be mistaken, Green harbors no bitterness about the way his NFL career has panned out so far.
After all, the Cardinals have stuck with him for two years.
“The Cardinals are a first-class organization,” Green said. “I can't worry about anything. I just have to keep getting better every day and wait my turn.”
Green's versatility and football savvy are his greatest assets. He just longs to contribute on the field.
“I'm a special teams guy. I can return punts and kickoffs at a high level,” Green said. “I feel like my strong point is playing corner. I can play inside or outside.”
As trying as not getting on the field has been the past two seasons, Green's confidence remains unshaken. He fully expects to make his long-awaited NFL debut when the Cardinals open the regular season at home against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Sept. 9.
“I know I can play,” Green said. “I'm sure I'll make the team.”