Broncos Update Insider - 8/13

Quarterback Jay Cutler will be throwing to someone when the regular season opens, but his cast of receivers is far from set.

One of the few certainties is top target Brandon Marshall will miss at least two games, possibly three. Marshall was suspended by the NFL for violating the league's conduct policy. He was given a three-game suspension, but that can be reduced to two if he undergoes counseling. Marshall indicated he will do whatever he has to in order to reduce the suspension.

"I'm just going to do everything I'm supposed to do, whether it's off the field or on the field and get past this," Marshall said.

Marshall didn't give much insight about his suspension or the events leading up to it. He has been arrested three times since the start of 2007. He offered general answers about changes in his life and not getting in trouble again.

"It's just being more responsible, and being the best player I can be in the community and on the field," Marshall said. "It's not hard. It's not rocket science. Like I said, I have a job to do and I plan on getting it done."

Without Marshall, the Broncos lose a player that had 102 catches last year. There doesn't appear to be a great option at the No. 1 receiver spot. Rookie Eddie Royal had a great camp and earned a start in the team's first preseason game.

"For a guy to have a chance to start and play some gives you an idea how hard he's been working and what he has done in practice," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.

Shanahan praised veterans Darrell Jackson and Keary Colbert, but neither has made a huge impact in camp. The Broncos need one or both of them to be productive when Marshall is out.

Another spot that is still up in the air is the second tight end position, which is a big receiving option in the Broncos offense. Tony Scheffler was the favorite to win that job, but Nate Jackson has been with the first team all of training camp. Jackson is a favorite of the coaches, and Scheffler figured he had to win the job in preseason. Scheffler had a good start to that, leading the team with 47 receiving yards in the preseason opener against Houston.

"Nate's a good player and he's having a good camp so far," Scheffler said. "It's whoever plays best in the preseason."

CAMP CALENDAR: Training camp ends on Tuesday. Denver will then hold practices with the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday and Thursday.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Guard Montrae Holland, who didn't practice with the team in the two weeks leading up to its preseason opener because he reported to camp overweight, was thrilled when the coaches said he could return to practice after the first preseason game.

"It's been a long two weeks for me, but it's over now," Holland said. "I'm happy to get an opportunity to get back on the field."

--Broncos coach Mike Shanahan told a Denver radio station that his team will not miss the playoffs. Expectations are low for the Broncos after a 7-9 season, but the players liked hearing Shanahan's confident message.

"Obviously he knows we have a lot of work to get to that point, but right now I feel like we can make it too," cornerback Champ Bailey said.

--Offensive tackle Ryan Harris, a second-year player and first-time starter for the Broncos, had four penalties in the first half of Denver's first preseason game, which was obviously a disappointment.

"I didn't play well enough," Harris said. "I'm very disappointed in myself."

--The Broncos saw some good and some bad from their preseason opener. They lost 19-16 to Houston, and had many mistakes, including 12 penalties. But overall, there was enough progress to be optimistic.

"There were a lot of good things out there, but we obviously have a lot of things we have to clean up and a lot of mistakes we have to correct," safety Marlon McCree said. "Overall, I think it went pretty good."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're not going to miss the playoffs." -- Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, to KKFN radio in Denver on Aug. 1.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

--LB Jamie Winborn is a natural weak-side linebacker, but he could fill in on the strong side during the preseason. Boss Bailey and Louis Green, the first- and second-string strong-side linebackers, were lost to injury in the preseason opener.

--K Matt Prater missed his first field-goal attempt of the preseason, a 30-yarder. He settled down and hit his final three attempts in the opener.

--RB Anthony Alridge has been impressive in camp, and got a bump up the depth chart when Ryan Torain went down with an elbow injury. Alridge has great speed, but is prone to mistakes. He had a fumble in the preseason opener.

--RB Andre Hall's spot as Selvin Young's backup became safer with Ryan Torain's injury. Hall is a gifted back who impressed when given the chance to start at Chicago last year. He has been the No. 2 tailback since the start of training camp.

--OT Erik Pears is battling a sore back, which could be problematic for the Broncos. Pears has experience at right or left tackle and could be back in the starting lineup if there's an injury or any of the starters struggle.



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