WR Brandon Marshall looking to break out

Second-year WR Brandon Marshall is one of the Denver Broncos lone bright spots after the first four games of the season.

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall has been a breakout player for the Denver Broncos already this season, showing off great moves after the catch and a knack for getting in the end zone.

But the Broncos also put a premium on blocking, and receivers aren't excluded. Marshall, a big, physical receiver, has been equally impressive in the run game.

"He's a hitter and he doesn't shy away from contact," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.

Marshall's background helps. He played safety one season in college, because injuries decimated Central Florida's secondary. Like Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey, two longtime Broncos starters who enjoyed mixing it up with cornerbacks on run plays, Marshall wants to help pave the way for Denver's running backs.

"It's another aspect of the game that basically shows character," Marshall said. "You got a lot of guys who just want to go out there and catch balls, but you have to be a team guy and go out there and throw your body in there sometimes."

Marshall usually has a mismatch. He is bigger than many cornerbacks, and said his attitude in the run game helps him get some blocks downfield against those cornerbacks.

"Most of those guys don't want to hit," Marshall said. "They just want to cover a guy and look good in their uniform."

PLAYER NOTES
--WR Domenik Hixon was released by the Broncos. Hixon, a fourth-round pick in 2006, averaged 4.6 yards on seven punt returns and 22.8 yards on 12 kickoffs, but did not have a reception.

--WR Brian Clark, who was waived Saturday, re-signed with Denver.

--QB Jay Cutler didn't seem affected by an ankle injury against Indianapolis. He got a MRI on the ankle, but the results showed no damage and he practiced all week. Cutler should be 100 percent going forward.

--RB Travis Henry's status will be determined later in the week. He has dealt with a bad ankle for most of the year, but his latest sprain looked bad. His leg twisted underneath him when he was tackled against Indianapolis. The Broncos have a bye after this week, but this week's game against San Diego is a big one, so they can't afford to rest Henry if he's close to healthy.

--RB Selvin Young is likely to start if Travis Henry can't play. Young has good speed and moves and can hit some big plays. The Broncos appear to have confidence in him to play a big role, even to start against San Diego.

--WR Javon Walker will be evaluated through the week. He has swelling in his knee. If he doesn't play against San Diego it affects the entire offense, because teams can overplay the run and give more attention to Brandon Marshall, the other wideout.

--WR Brandon Marshall had a couple of nice catches, including a touchdown, against Indianapolis. He has gotten off to a great start, but could see a lot more attention from opposing defenses, especially if Javon Walker misses more games.

--WR Brandon Stokley started for Denver against Indianapolis because Javon Walker was injured. Stokley moved inside in three-receiver sets and Glenn Martinez played on the outside, because Stokley is more dangerous from the slot.

--TE Daniel Graham lined up on many plays as a fullback against Indianapolis. If Travis Henry can't play, Cecil Sapp might move from fullback to halfback to spell Selvin Young, which might mean Graham gets more chances as a lead blocker out of the backfield.

--K Jason Elam hit both of his field-goal attempts against Indianapolis. He has quietly gotten back on track after missing three field goals in Denver's first two games.

--DT Sam Adams could be back in the starting lineup for the Broncos this week. He was deactivated last week, and the coaches said they didn't think he matched up well against the Colts' speed or no-huddle offense. If the Broncos turn their run defense around, Adams needs to help by anchoring the middle.

--DE Simeon Rice made his first start with the Broncos. He has yet to make a big impact, but the team thinks he will be a factor this year.

--S John Lynch could return this week from a groin injury. The Broncos need him back because he can help in run defense, which has been very poor so far. Denver faces San Diego and LaDainian Tomlinson this week.





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