In the words of rapper Lil' Wayne, "You ain't grinding until you're tired." And in Marques Murrell's case, he ain't tired until he's done grinding with a tire.
The second-year outside linebacker, after his standard weight training and cardio workouts, chains a car tire to his back and goes running with it. On a track, in the practice bubble, on a field and up hills, he lugs it. And he loves it. Like a baby with his favorite binky, Murrell and the tire are near inseparable.
It's an exercise he picked up while working with the track team at Jack Britt High School (Fayetteville, N.C.) that he has carried with him to this point. And, likely, what the tire symbolizes has carried him to this point.
Despite a great career at Appalachian State — including 26 sacks in his junior and senior seasons combined, a school-record 18 forced fumbles and two All-America first-team selections — Murrell went undrafted. That he played for a Division I-AA program and was thought to be undersized for an edge rusher likely scared some scouts.
But what isn't measurable is work ethic.
Being the little brother of an NFL player didn't make him complacent. His brother, Adrian, had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for the Jets in 1996-97. There was no rivalry and he doesn't seek to outdo his brother, the younger Murrell said, but his sibling's success made him yearn more to achieve his own dreams.
"I think it comes from my parents," he said of his tenacity. "Growing up, my parents always told me to work hard and take nothing for granted. That's stuck with me ever since, through everything."
The Eagles picked him up after the 2007 NFL Draft and added him to their practice squad at the conclusion of the preseason. But before that, he made his mark.
"He's got a great motor, that's for sure," said wide receiver Brad Smith. "You can count on Marques because he just goes. He's the kind of guy that's annoying to an offense."
Smith would know. In the Jets' preseason finale against the Eagles last year, back when Smith was playing quarterback, Murrell sacked him and forced a fumble. It was the first of two such plays for Murrell, who later tagged Marques Tuiasosopo for a strip sack.
"It was the fourth game of the preseason and it was coming down to the final cuts," Murrell said of his mindset entering that game, "so I had to go out and show what I have."
The Jets saw it. And they couldn't beat him, but he eventually joined them. They signed Murrell to the active roster in November and he played in four games.
Having been around him for some time, his teammates have noticed how seemingly indefatigable the 23-year-old is. The word "motor" almost echoed.
"The thing about him that I like is he's got a non-stop motor," linebacker David Bowens said. "I can remember two-minute drills where he's impressed me. There was a game situation and I remember on one drive he could've had three sacks. That just shows that attrition doesn't get to the guy."
Murrell remembered the sequence and that session, and what he took from it was that he didn't get that third would-be sack. That's the mentality of a grinder.
"You have to keep the motor running at all times," he said, "because when you let it stop, the play you let up on could be the one that changes the game for either side. I want to be a game changer."
Murrell might not have changed the Aug. 16 preseason game against the Redskins, but he certainly affected it on his first play. He lined up at defensive end for his first snap, he recalled. He executed a quick spin move to elude the blocker and blasted Todd Collins, knocking the quarterback out of the game.
"I was trying to get off the ball and get the tackle on his edge a little faster," he said. "It's a really good feeling that's hard to describe. But once you hit the quarterback, it's a way to let him know that you're in the game."
It was a way of letting the fans and his teammates know, too.
"We weren't happy that Collins got hurt, but we were happy that we got to the quarterback," Bowens said. "Whenever that happens, the whole team gets excited and the defensive guys start licking their chops."
What's got Murrell licking his chops now is Saturday's matchup between Appalachian State and Louisiana State.
The underdog Mountaineers knocked off powerhouse Michigan, 34-32, in a thriller last September and have ambitions of upsetting the defending-champion Tigers.
If his alma mater is somehow able to pull another major upset, how much would Murrell taunt LSU alum Alan Faneca?
"I doubt I'd talk trash," Murrell said. "Even last year I didn't say much. David Harris didn't get it badly. I just walk by and shoot them a smile. They know."