Marvell Tell III opted out of the 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Colts' cornerback hardly took the year off.
The 6-foot-2, 195 pound Tell spent 2020 working on his craft in Texas and supporting the Colts from afar. He described his opt out year as an "extended offseason" in which he focused on honing his craft ahead of his return in 2021, which he made to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center this month.
"I didn't have any regrets," Tell said. "The decision was made and you gotta roll with it. I took full advantage of that time. I feel I got better in my skill work and my technical work and kept my head in the playbook and was just waiting for this opportunity again."
Tell had a solid rookie season 2019 after the Colts drafted him in the fifth round and moved him from safety, his position at USC, to cornerback. He appeared in 13 games (one start) and broke up five passes, forced a fumble and totaled 26 tackles in 2019. He was one of only seven cornerbacks with at least 130 coverage snaps to not be charged with a single missed tackle two years ago, per Pro Football Focus.
A lot of Tell's work in 2020 was on staying low and "within the phone booth" in and out of his breaks, and he said he feels faster, stronger and healthier now. Through it all, he stayed in contact with the Colts' front office, coaches and players and said he felt supported in his decision by both coach Frank Reich and general manager Chris Ballard.
"It was all love," Tell said. "… It's like a family here. I wasn't just gone, went ghost that whole time. There was communication going on and felt like I was still part of the squad."
And, as Tell said, "there was no slacking for real."
Tell will compete in first-year cornerbacks coach James Rowe's room with Xavier Rhodes, Kenny Moore, Rock Ya-Sin, T.J. Carrie, Isaiah Rodgers, Andre Chachere and Anthony Chesley. And he's re-joining his teammates with a mindset of taking nothing for granted.
"(I'm) not entitled in any way, I'm here to work and earn my keep as everyone else is," Tell said. "It just felt good to be back doing what I love though, playing ball, running around, talking a little smack, be with the guys."
Get your first look at the Indianapolis Colts 2021 defense as they take the field for day one of OTAs.