After a month-long hiatus, Torrance Marshall will now begin to see if his impressive preseason can translate into regular-season success.
Wednesday the third-year linebacker who led the Packers with 31 tackles (24 solo, 7 assisted) in five preseason games returned to the practice field after serving a four-week suspension for violating the NFL's Substance Abuse Program.
The only player clad in shorts on a breezy, 40-degree day, Marshall noticed that some things had changed since he was last in Green Bay, but expressed relief to be back in otherwise comfortable surroundings.
"I didn't think it was that cold out there; it surprised me," Marshall said after practice. "Four weeks is a long time not to be doing something you love to do and I was just happy to be out there mingling with the guys, joking around."
Marshall will be even happier if he's allowed to suit up Sunday.
Although back at practice, he's yet to be activated to the 53-man roster. The Packers have until next Monday to do that, but would have to activate Marshall by 3 p.m. CT Saturday if he's to play against the Seattle Seahawks this weekend.
Despite missing the last month of action, Marshall says he feels stronger now than he did at the end of training camp. While serving his suspension in Pittsburgh, he worked out five days a week for three hours at a time in addition to undergoing counseling.
"I'm in good shape," he said. "I don't think there's going to be an adjustment period. It's just a matter of getting on the field."
On the field Wednesday was where Marshall briefly addressed his teammates following practice.
"I just thanked everybody for welcoming me back," he said, "apologized for missing the four games and told them I hoped I could contribute right away and help the team."
A special teams standout in 2002, Marshall struggled to find playing time at linebacker his first two seasons as a pro, but seemed to be making strides this preseason with the help of new linebackers coach Mark Duffner.
The Packers had yet to practice Wednesday when GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman held his weekly press conference with members of the Wisconsin media at noon, but that didn't keep him from praising Marshall's recent off-the-field efforts.
"I really give the kid credit," Sherman said. "He's done everything he could possibly do to hopefully rectify the past situation. Hopefully that responsibility that he's demonstrated can just carry forth."
After a frustrating month away, Marshall says he's determined not to waste any time.
"It was long," Marshall said of the suspension, "but I have to deal with it. I'm back now, so hopefully I don't miss a beat."