Broncos Update Insider - 9/5

When receiver Brandon Marshall's NFL suspension was reduced from three games to one, the Denver Broncos were thrilled. Still, playing even one game without their top playmaker will be difficult.

Denver starts the season at Oakland in the second game of a Monday night doubleheader. Marshall figures the receivers left to fill in for him will do just fine.

"At the wide receiver position, we're so deep it's not going to be a dropoff," Marshall said. "We all bring something to the table that's a little different. I'm excited to see those guys go out there and play and make big plays against Oakland."

There's no telling who the Broncos' top target will be without Marshall in the lineup. Darrell Jackson is listed on the depth chart as the starter in Marshall's position, but he has been battling an ankle injury. He said he would have been unavailable to play last week.

Jackson said he will play this week. The Broncos have only four receivers on the roster without Marshall.

"It's still healing up, getting better, and hopefully by game time it'll feel all the way right," Jackson said. "If it's not, you just have to suck it up."

If Jackson takes Marshall's spot, that doesn't automatically make him Jay Cutler's top target. Among the receivers, rookie Eddie Royal should see a big role.

Royal had a great training camp and earned a starting job. He has big-play ability, although the Raiders cornerbacks will challenge him. He is one of the biggest unknowns on the Broncos, because he looked great in practice and showed flashes of his talent in preseason games but hasn't had a lot of game action.

"I want to be a playmaker for this offense and I want to make plays for my team," Royal said. "Hopefully I get a chance to do that. We have a lot of weapons on offense so I'm sure we're going to be spreading the ball around."

Denver will also use its tight ends. Nate Jackson worked ahead of Tony Scheffler the entire preseason, but Denver's Week 1 depth chart lists Scheffler ahead of Jackson. One of them will play a lot in two-tight end sets, and either one could be a major target for Cutler.

Although each of the receivers will be in the spotlight, replacing Marshall will be a group effort.

"We've got playmakers all over the board," Royal said. "If one guy is down the other one is going to step up. We look forward to challenges like these."

SERIES HISTORY: 96th meeting. Raiders lead series, 54-39-2, and the teams have split two playoff games. Last year, Denver had a controversial overtime win at home, in which Sebastian Janikowski's field goal was disallowed because of a last-moment timeout call and then Janikowski missed the second chance. Oakland retaliated with a 34-20 home win late in the season.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Feeling good about their cornerback depth, the Broncos traded fourth-year corner Domonique Foxworth to Atlanta for a seventh-round pick in 2009. Foxworth wanted the opportunity to start, which wasn't going to happen this year with Champ Bailey and Dre Bly holding down the starting spots. Foxworth can be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

"I'm very happy with how my career went in Denver and obviously I got very close to the community and city so I'm definitely sad to have to leave, but there's no anger or animosity," Foxworth said.

The Broncos will get a sixth-round pick if the Falcons re-sign Foxworth.

--The Broncos didn't want to lose receiver Brandon Marshall for any games, but the reduction of his suspension from three games to one was a best-case scenario.

"We're very happy," Marshall's lawyer Harvey Steinberg said. "I was happy the NFL was willing to take a second long and hard look at the situation."

--The Broncos had to do some shuffling at running back when rookie tailback Anthony Alridge suffered a foot injury that will keep him out all season and fullback Cecil Sapp ended up on injured reserve as well. Sapp could be released later.

The Broncos kept rookie linebacker Spencer Larsen, despite having seven other linebackers on the roster. The reason is Larsen can and will play fullback at the start of the season. Larsen was a college linebacker but practiced a bit at fullback in training camp.

Aside from Larsen, the Broncos have only four healthy running backs on the active roster: Selvin Young, Andre Hall, Michael Pittman and rookie Peyton Hillis, who will start at fullback. Rookie tailback Ryan Torain was kept on the active roster and hopes to return from an elbow injury in late October.

BY THE NUMBERS: 17 -- Consecutive years the Broncos have appeared on Monday Night Football, the longest streak in the NFL.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "For the most part, I think it will allow us to do what we do best. We're all fired up." -- CB Dre Bly, on the Broncos' new defensive scheme, which is being implemented by coordinator Bob Slowik.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Broncos weren't done when they cut down to 53 players. The biggest moves were in the secondary, where cornerback Domonique Foxworth was traded to Atlanta, safety Roderick Rogers was cut and brought back to the practice squad and safety Calvin Lowry was claimed off waivers from Tennessee.

The Broncos also signed guard Dylan Gandy and defensive tackle Josh Shaw. Defensive tackle Alvin McKinley was released. McKinley and Foxworth were each major contributors to the defense last year.

PLAYER NOTES

--CB Karl Paymah used a late surge in the preseason to earn the team's nickel cornerback job. The team was confident enough in Paymah to trade Domonique Foxworth to Atlanta for a seventh-round pick next year.

--CB Jack Williams impressed the team during the preseason, when he had two interceptions. He returned one for a touchdown in the finale. The rookie could see some playing time in dime packages following Domonique Foxworth's trade to Atlanta.

--RB P.J. Pope, formerly of Chicago, was signed to the practice squad. He is someone to watch because the Broncos aren't very deep at running back to start the season, and the team will expect Pope to be ready if necessary.

--WR Travis Wilson was signed to the practice squad after spending time with Cleveland. The Broncos don't have many young receivers at the bottom of the depth chart, so Wilson could carve out a future with the team if he impresses in practice.

--S Calvin Lowry, claimed off waivers after Tennessee cut him, should instantly help on special teams. He will also be a key backup at safety. He started most of last season with the Titans.


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