Broncos Update Insider - 9/12

The Denver Broncos' passing game was brilliant last week, led by rookie receiver Eddie Royal and quarterback Jay Cutler. Now that wide receiver Brandon Marshall is back, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan will have even more options.

The Broncos offense will be tough to game plan against this season.

Based on the first game, Denver will spread the yards around. They got 441 yards of offense in a 41-14 win over Oakland in the season opener, and get a key weapon back this week against San Diego when receiver Brandon Marshall is reinstated from his suspension.

The Broncos didn't need him in the opener. The running game, with three tailbacks sharing the load, was effective. The passing game was brilliant, led by rookie receiver Eddie Royal and quarterback Jay Cutler.

"Defenses won't be able to key on one person, take one person away," receiver Darrell Jackson said. "They have to play honest, and that will open up a lot of lanes and give a lot of opportunities to everybody."

Now that Marshall, who caught 102 passes last year, is back, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan will have many options. He showed he isn't afraid to feature Royal, a rookie, in the game plan. The game plan against Oakland was to match up Royal against former Pro Bowl cornerback DeAngelo Hall. Royal had nine catches for 146 yards.

Marshall was watching the game at home, and realized that Royal's breakthrough performance will be a benefit to the offense, and him. Teams won't be able to blindly roll coverage Marshall's way, because Royal can make plays.

"I can't ask for a better receiver on the other side," Marshall said.

Jackson, who caught a 48-yard touchdown against Oakland, was excited about the receiving depth going forward.

"We're deep, we're talented," Jackson said. "We just wanted to pick up the slack and hold it down until our No. 1 receiver got back."

The running game has always been effective under Shanahan, and this year it appears three backs will share the load. Selvin Young started, but before getting three carries in the fourth quarter of a blowout, he had only four carries.

Andre Hall led the Broncos with 10 carries and 61 yards, but he ceded one of the responsibilities expected for him. Hall was the goal-line and short-yardage back through the preseason, but Michael Pittman was given that role in the season opener. He scored a pair of touchdowns.

"Right now it's just playing your role," Pittman said. "I think we're going to keep it like this all year."

Young said he didn't mind the division of roles among the tailbacks.

"I like being coachable, I like being a guy that's going to go out and do what's asked of him," Young said after the game. "Today that's what was asked of me and I'm happy with that. We got a great victory."

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Broncos offensive line was young, but played very well in the season opener. Quarterback Jay Cutler wasn't sacked and often had plenty of time in the pocket. Both tackles, Ryan Clady and Ryan Harris, were making their first NFL starts.

"Those guys were awesome, completely awesome," Young said.

--The Chargers swept the Broncos last year, outscoring them 64-6. San Diego also swept Denver in 2006, so the Broncos want to show they have closed the gap with them this season.

"They dominated our football team last year, and we're 0-4 over the last two years so we've got our work cut out," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.

--The final game stats for Monday's season opener at Oakland credited quarterback Jay Cutler with 299 yards. Elias Sports Bureau reviewed the film and a two-yard pass to tight end Nate Jackson in the fourth quarter was changed to a three-yarder, giving Cutler his third career 300-yard game.

--Receiver Brandon Marshall was happy to be back from his NFL suspension. He said he worked out during his week off and was ready to return.

"It went by pretty fast," Marshall said. "I did my best to stay in shape mentally and physically. It was one week. It could have been a lot worse. But thank God I'm back now."

BY THE NUMBERS: 146 -- Eddie Royal's receiving yards in his NFL debut, which is the sixth-most yards in a debut since 1960. QUOTE TO NOTE: "Last year is over with and they are 0-1 and ready to come in here and give us their best shot." -- QB Jay Cutler, on facing San Diego.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Broncos had to make room for receiver Brandon Marshall when his suspension was up, so guard Dylan Gandy was released. The Broncos' top backup at guard is rookie Kory Lichtensteiger, although Casey Wiegmann could also back up at guard once center Tom Nalen is healthy.

PLAYER NOTES

--RB Andre Hall was excused from practice on Wednesday. His mother passed away hours before Denver's season opener on Monday night. Hall should be back at practice Thursday.

--LB Jamie Winborn presents the Broncos with an interesting dilemma. He had a good game against Oakland, and has played well every time he has been used on defense since joining the Broncos last year. However, he is probably headed back to the bench when Boss Bailey is fully healthy from a high ankle sprain, which should be this week.

--WR Darrell Jackson will return to a backup role with Brandon Marshall returning. It's unclear how much Jackson will play, because Brandon Stokley is the slot receiver and Denver doesn't often use four-receiver sets.

--DE Jarvis Moss was inactive for Week 1 and was given no assurances he will be up for the second game. Moss is primarily a pass rusher, which the Broncos will need this season.

--DE John Engelberger had six tackles against Oakland. Although he hasn't been an effective pass rusher for the Broncos, he stays in the starting lineup because of his ability against the run.



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