Brandon Marshall, the Denver Broncos starting weakside linebacker, is one of the most important defenders on the team, next to Von Miller and Chris Harris, Jr, especially when you consider that the team is still missing Danny Trevathan.
Marshall left yesterday's 39-36 victory over the Miami Dolphins with a concussion. He has been a durable tackle machine for the Broncos thus far. His absence was acutely felt, as the team had to turn to rookie LB, Lamin Barrow.
On the season, Marshall has notched 94 combined tackles, good for fifth most in the NFL. He has been one of the biggest factors in the Broncos success in stopping the run. He has struggled, at times, in coverage, but has more than made up for it with his intensity and nose for the ball.
Marshall will now have to pass through the league's mandated concussion protocol, which, depending on the severity, puts his week 13 availability in doubt. And with this season's biggest divisional game, on the road no less, next up on the schedule, the Broncos need him now more than ever.
The Kansas City Chiefs feature one of the NFL's elite running backs in Jamaal Charles. If the Broncos are forced to play someone else this coming Sunday, likely a rookie like Barrow or Corey Nelson, it could be a long day.
Yesterday, when Marshall went down, it was Barrow who saw an increase in snaps (However, it must be noted that Barrow's snaps came at middle linebacker). He finished the game with zero tackles, after playing 21 defensive snaps, which earned him a -0.3 overall grade via ProFootballFocus.
Steven Johnson (-0.3) and Nelson (0.0) combined for 12 defensive snaps at "Will" LB, in Marshall's stead. If Marshall is a no-go for week 13, I would hope that the Broncos would turn to Nelson to fill Marshall's shoes, rather than Johnson. Nelson has flashed great ability, in limited snaps thus far.
He saw his career high in snaps in week 6 vs the New York Jets, with 36, earning a +1.6 overall grade via ProFootballFocus. However, as a rookie 7th round pick, his inexperience could prove to be a vulnerability. But there's no doubt that he fits the John Fox mold of a speedy "Will" LB, capable of making plays on the edge.
We'll keep you apprised of Marshall's situation moving forward.