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Brandon Marshall still on learning curve with Giants

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Anyone analyzing the 0-4 Giants could close their eyes, toss a dart at the roster and make a somewhat convincing argument that this person is partially to blame for the stunning start.

On Monday, the New York Daily News mentioned Brandon Marshall. Marshall crossed town after a strong run with the Jets but has logged just 16 catches for 139 yards in four games with the Giants so far. He's caught 53 percent of his targets on the season, and while dropped passes aren't a commonly tracked statistic, Marshall's name has been mentioned alongside the word drop more than a few times this year, including twice in Sunday's loss to the Buccaneers (via NJ.com).

"He seems to be double-catching a little bit," coach Ben McAdoo told reporters Monday. "We just need to get through a clean game with him. He's been catching it well in practice. We just need to carry it over in the games."

He added: "I think it's a new offense, he's doing a lot of learning, he's still doing a lot of learning, playing with a different quarterback. Ya know, he hasn't caught the ball cleanly in games."

Marshall was always a strange fit in McAdoo's offense but that hasn't stopped him from taking over stretches of games so far this year. His best performance -- an eight-catch, 66-yard game against the Eagles in Week 3 -- was also the game where he saw the most targets (11). Like a good power forward in basketball who thrives on ugly points in the paint, Marshall's career has been about the grind. Coming into this season, no receiver had more catches or receiving yards over the last 10 years.

So what has changed in 2017?

During Marshall's Pro Bowl season with the Jets in 2015, he had double-digit targets in all but five games. Of the 11 games where he did get double-digit targets, only two did not result in 100-plus yard performances. In four of those games, Marshall caught 80 percent of his targets or better.

At the risk of mixing sports metaphors, Marshall's arrival with the Giants was always going to make him a designated hitter of sorts, or maybe a three-point specialist coming off the bench. It seems Odell Beckham is the only receiver fast and creative enough to get himself in open space before Eli Manning is swallowed by the defensive line and Marshall is being asked to just stay ready when the protection lines up. For a receiver who, for years, has thrived on being the focal point of a team's passing game, that cannot be easy to do.

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