Lemar Marshall nervous? No way, he says. Marshall is expected to see action in place of LaVar Arrington before a national television audience, against NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys, on Monday Night Football.
On Thursday afternoon, just a few hours after he learned of his new assignment, Marshall was surprisingly calm.
"I'm not nervous at all," he said. "It's a big game, but I'm not going to let all of the distractions get into my head. I'm just going to study the game plan and make sure I'm prepared for the game."
Not even a little nervous?
"You're going to feel the nerves, but you won't feel nervous scared," Marshall explained. "It's just one of those opportunities you have to be ready for. If one man goes down, the next man has to come in and do the job."
Arrington underwent surgery on his right knee on Thursday and he will sit out the Dallas game. His status for future games will be determined on a week-to-week basis.
Even if Marshall doesn't start the game, he will likely see the most extrensive playing time of his career with the defense.
Marshall, 6-2 and 230 pounds, is in his third season as a Redskin. A former undrafted free agent out of Michigan State, he bounced around the NFL with Tampa Bay, Philadelphia and Denver before sticking with the Redskins in 2002.
Marshall has carved a niche on special teams--he has a role on the four coverage and return units, plus point-after-attempts--while seeing reserve duty at both strong-side and weak-side linebacker. In the first two games of this season, Marshall also played in goal-line and short yardage situations.
The Cincinnati native has 10 career tackles and a half-sack in his NFL career. He has accumulated 24 special teams tackles.
Playing behind Arrington and veteran Jessie Armstead the last two years, Marshall feels that he has matured as a football player over the last few years.
"I hope everything goes well with LaVar, first of all," he said. "As far as playing this week, this is an opportunity. I thought it might happen in New York last week but it didn't. I was ready with my helmet on and everything if LaVar went down, but he finished the whole game."
"Right now, I'm just going to have to step up."
Marshall recognizes that he has big shoes to fill.
"I can't go out there and play like LaVar plays, I have to play like Lemar plays," he said.
Then he added, with a smile: "That rhymes. But that's what I have to do."