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FOOTBALL: Odessa High grad Marquez enjoying experience at St. Louis Rams' camp - Odessa American: Oavarsity

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FOOTBALL: Odessa High grad Marquez enjoying experience at St. Louis Rams' camp

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Posted: Saturday, August 8, 2015 5:56 pm

ST. CHARLES, MO. Bradley Marquez might never play a down in an NFL game. There are no such promises, especially for a player in his position.

But as far as he’s concerned, the 22-year-old Odessa High School graduate already is living his NFL dream.

Marquez is a rookie wide receiver for the St. Louis Rams, who signed him as an undrafted free agent May 7. The former Texas Tech standout is two weeks into his first preseason training camp, and he’s relishing every moment of every practice.

“Right now I’m just enjoying my time, just the experience alone to be able to go through an NFL training camp,” Marquez said Friday after the Rams’ scrimmage at Lindenwood University. “There’s thousands of people that would kill to be doing this, and I’m just fortunate to be able to have gotten this opportunity. So I want to try to make the most of it.”

The 5-foot-10, 196-pound Marquez said he’s not yet sure where he stands among the receiving corps for the Rams, who play the first of four preseason games Aug. 14 at the Oakland Raiders and open the regular season Sept. 13 with a home game against the Seattle Seahawks. He’s one of 11 receivers in the Rams’ camp, and one of four rookies who were undrafted free agents.

Marquez said he’s just trying to adjust to football at the professional level, which he said is much more detail-oriented and requires more off-the-field study and preparation, and trying to learn as much as he can from his coaches and elder teammates. He’s also trying to make as good of an impression as possible both on offense and special teams, which means making plays in practice.

He did that during Friday night’s workout at Lindenwood’s Harlen C. Hunter Stadium, which was open to the public and featured drills as well as live plays in a scrimmage format. After an early miscue in which he nearly stumbled on a curl route and let a pass go through his hands, Marquez caught a touchdown toss from rookie quarterback Sean Mannion during a 7-on-7 period in the red zone.

Later, during the 11-on-11 portion of the practice, Marquez got behind the defense and hauled in a deep ball from Abilene native Case Keenum. Not long after, during a 2-minute drill, Marquez made a sliding catch over the middle.

“He’s a good player,” Keenum said of Marquez. “I know his background and where he’s from. He’s smart, a headsy guy, can make a lot of plays. It’s fun to have guys like that on your side.”

Keenum and Marquez both said they’ve developed a good connection as West Texans who played for the same coach in college. Kliff Kingsbury was Keenum’s quarterbacks coach and then offensive coordinator during his final four seasons at the University of Houston, and Kingsbury was Marquez’s head coach at Texas Tech the last two years.

There are 10 other native Texans on the Rams’ training camp roster, including No. 1 quarterback Nick Foles of Austin and one of Marquez’s former Red Raiders teammates, safety Cody Davis from Stephenville.

Those Texas ties have made St. Louis feel a little more like home for Marquez, but he still misses home. He said he spent about a month back in Odessa between organized team activities in June and the start of training camp in late July, and ate as much Mexican food as he could.

“Especially mom’s home cooking,” Marquez said. “There’s not a lot of places that I’ve found yet that are good Mexican food.”

Perhaps he’ll find some if he sticks with the Rams throughout the preseason and regular season, and that’s the plan for Marquez. If that doesn’t pan out, he still has baseball as a backup plan.

Marquez was drafted by the New York Mets out of high school in 2011 and said he remains under contract as a minor league outfielder, although he hasn’t played baseball since the 2013 season.

He said the Mets are waiting while he pursues a professional football career, and Marquez hopes they have to wait a little longer.

“The baseball thing, we’ll see what happens,” Marquez said. “My goal right now is 100 percent to make this team for the Rams and play this NFL season.”

Odessa, TX

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