It's safe to say that rookie receiver Jalin Marshall checked off his immediate goal after signing with the Jets as an undrafted free agent in May.
"Coming in I wanted to be the team's primary returner," he said on the final episode of Inside the Jets.
While Marshall suffered a pair of injuries (shoulder, concussion) this season, he was the returner for nine games. In the team's opening preseason matchup against the Jaguars, Marshall took his first kickoff return 84 yards. After making the 53-man roster and being named the starting kick returner, he busted loose for a 65-yarder against the Bengals in the season opener.
"I wanted to do everything I could to make sure they knew I could [return]," Marshall said. "Running it all the way back each and every time. That was my main goal, being that returner and then try to make a role on offense."
The Ohio State product was the Buckeyes' punt returner in his two seasons in Columbus, finishing fifth in school history with an average of 12.7 yards per return. In his first season with the Green & White, the 21-year-old averaged 5.6 and 24.9 yards per punt and kick return, respectively.
"I think the speed, they get to you way faster," said Marshall of the biggest difference returning in college versus the NFL. "Something is going on where they get to you faster and it's hard for you to get to where you have to go. You train hard and trust each other to make it happen."
In addition to his return duties, Marshall carved out a niche on offense. In Week 2, he had three catches for 45 yards in the Jets' 37-31 win over the Bills and found himself in the starting lineup the following game. Unfortunately, Marshall suffered a shoulder injury that put him on the shelf for a few weeks, slowing down his development.
"It's always frustrating getting hurt during the middle of the season, having to start back over and fight your way back into the lineup," he said. "But it always teaches you to persevere, work hard, be patient and just help the team when the team needs you. And I think I did that in the last game."
Marshall registered three catches for 22 yards and a touchdown in the season finale against Buffalo, finishing the year with 14 receptions and two receiving scores.
The 5'10", 200-pounder is still adjusting to life as a pass catcher in the NFL as he split time as the Buckeyes' H-back and receiver.
"You have to be in the right spot where the quarterback wants you to be," Marshall said. "You have to be there fast or depending on what defense they're playing, you have to sit where he needs you to be. Being very precise is very important."
Marshall is excited about the future of the Jets' receiving corps, featuring fellow rookies Charone Peake, Robby Anderson and Marshall himself.
"I think me, Charone and Robby are three different players all together," he said. "Robby is a super fast guy, Charone is real fast, real big and strong, and I can plug in the inside and take that away. I think us three can do a lot of damage in the future."