Broncos Update Insider - 8/25

No matter how many games Brandon Marshall plays for the Denver Broncos this season, he appears poised to put up some big numbers.

Marshall had a great training camp and productive preseason. He finished it with a big performance in Denver's third preseason game against Green Bay. He had two catches for 71 yards and a touchdown, and also drew a 31-yard pass interference call. This preseason, Marshall had 10 catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns in about five quarters of action.

That will probably be it for Marshall until sometime in September. The Broncos don't play any of their regular starters in the preseason finale, and Marshall will probably sit as well. Then he starts a suspension for violating the NFL conduct policy. He was suspended three games, with the chance to bring it down to two games. He is also appealing the ruling.

Marshall said missing some games won't affect his plans for this season.

"I'm trying to break records this year," Marshall said.

Last year, Marshall had 102 catches and showed he was on his way to becoming one of the best receivers in the NFL. Then he had a rough offseason. In March, he suffered a serious arm injury and couldn't catch any passes for three months. Then he was summoned to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's office for some off-field incidents and was suspended.

But the arm hasn't been a problem at all. The Broncos just have to survive through the suspension to get their best offensive playmaker back on the field. In his absence, Darrell Jackson is the likely candidate to replace him in the starting lineup, with rookie Eddie Royal lining up at the other receiver spot.

"Of course we're going to miss the guy," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "He makes big play after big play. We can't do anything about it. We have to do what we can do."

The Broncos have not adjusted Marshall's practice reps or playing time to adjust to the suspension. Marshall took every snap during training camp with the starters, played with the starters in preseason and Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he would likely have Marshall sit out the preseason finale, as the regular starters often do.

"We're going to treat it just like if somebody sprained his ankle a week before we played," Shanahan said. "Brandon's going to play a lot of games for us this season."

Once Marshall comes back, he'll have a few more tricks in his repertoire from last year. He said he has worked hard on his deep game and against press coverage. On an 80-yard drive against the Packers, Marshall showed off both those skills on back-to-back plays. He drew a pass-interference call against Packers cornerback Tramon Williams on a deep route. The next play, he went deep against Williams, easily beating press coverage off the line. With no safety help, Marshall went deep and Cutler hit him. Marshall juggled the ball a couple of times before bringing it in for a 49-yard gain.

"I told Jay, if we improve that in our game, deep ball and press coverage, we're going to be pretty tough," Marshall said.

NOTES, QUOTES

--RB Andre Hall will probably share some playing time with starting TB Selvin Young early in the season, but he also appears to be Denver's choice as its goal-line back. Hall isn't big, but he is stocky and is tough to knock off his feet because of his balance.

--P Brett Kern got both punts in Denver's third preseason game, a sign that he might have an edge over Sam Paulescu in the tight punting competition. The Broncos had split reps between the two before the third preseason game.

--Guard Montrae Holland returned to practice after Denver's first preseason game. Holland, a starter last year, reported to camp overweight and wasn't allowed to practice until he got into shape.

"Anytime you miss two weeks of camp, you miss development and timing," Holland said. "Right now, mine is a little off. At least now I'm practicing, so all I can do is get better."

--NFL Films president Steve Sabol said he will probably ask the Broncos to be featured on next year's season of the reality show "Hard Knocks," which chronicles a team in training camp. The Broncos don't often seek out attention like that, and owner Pat Bowlen sounded lukewarm to the idea.

"I'm not averse to it, but I'm not all that into it," Bowlen said.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He can be better." -- Former Broncos WR Rod Smith, on the chances that Brandon Marshall could reach the same level of Cowboys WR Terrell Owens.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

--C Casey Wiegmann will be in the starting lineup until C Tom Nalen is able to return from a knee surgery he is scheduled to undergo. Coach Mike Shanahan said he is holding out hope that Nalen will be ready in time for the Sept. 8 regular-season opener.

--CB Tyrone Poole was signed. The Broncos are deep at cornerback but Poole brings a veteran presence and could fight for a roster spot.



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