With revamped attitude, Marshall turns around year

Since ditching his surly attitude, Brandon Marshall has

soared.

The charismatic yet mercurial Denver Broncos wideout was named

to his second straight Pro Bowl this week, one of five Broncos

players to earn the honor. That’s a number usually reserved for a

team bound for the playoffs, not one still fighting for a spot and

in need of a win Sunday against Kansas City.

Marshall certainly has impressive credentials, eclipsing the

100-catch mark for the third year in a row. His 101 receptions are

second in the league and leave him just 13 shy of breaking Rod

Smith’s franchise record.

And while that’s a big number with one game left, Marshall IS

the league’s single-game catch leader, after hauling in 21 passes

on a memorable afternoon at Indianapolis earlier this month.

These days, Marshall is proving that anything’s possible – even

a complete transformation.

In training camp, Marshall took umbrage with the team for

rejecting his request for a new contract or a trade and threw a

temper tantrum – punting the ball in anger and batting away passes.

He drew a nine-day suspension for the stunt.

The time off got his attention.

Since then, he’s been trying to be a model employee, buckling

down and absorbing first-year coach Josh McDaniels’ intricate

offense.

At first, though, he struggled to grasp all the concepts,

falling behind other receivers. So much so that early in the season

he wasn’t always on the field in third-down passing situations.

Now, he’s again emerged as the primary option, making this Pro

Bowl appearance all the more special. He’ll be joined in south

Florida by pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil, defensive backs Brian

Dawkins and Champ Bailey and offensive tackle Ryan Clady.

“I’ve come a long way, worked hard, overcame a lot of things,”

said Marshall, who joined Marvin Harrison, Herman Moore, Jerry Rice

and Wes Welker as the only players in league history to post three

straight 100-catch seasons. “Teammates helped me get through it.

I’m just excited, just how the year turned out for me.”

Still, he’s wishing the team’s success could mirror that of his

own. The Broncos (8-7) have turned ice cold since a 6-0 start, and

now need help in order to sneak into the postseason. The task

starts Sunday by beating the Chiefs. Then, it’s out of their

hands.

However, Marshall doesn’t plan on doing much scoreboard

watching.

“I’m not going to root for anybody. I’m just going to sit back

and play my part and hopefully everything will fall in our favor,”

said Marshall, who practiced Wednesday on a limited basis due to a

hamstring ailment. “I’m not even going to watch or pay attention

to the scores. Hopefully, things work out for us.”

Marshall got off to a slow start this season, averaging around

five receptions a game during the Broncos’ six-game winning

streak.

Then he and quarterback Kyle Orton started to develop a

connection, a trust factor.

“The more games we played together, the better we’ve gotten,”

Orton said. “He’s an instinct player. He’s been great, for the

most part, being exactly where we want him to be.”

Marshall had his first 100-yard game of the season against

Pittsburgh on Nov. 9. The following week, he turned in a 134-yard

performance in a loss at Washington that included touchdown catches

of 40 and 75 yards.

He was beginning to heat up.

Marshall showed off his soft hands on Thanksgiving against the

New York Giants, hauling in a pair of one-handed grabs on deep

sideline routes.

On Dec. 13, Marshall had a day for the record books, gobbling up

21 passes for 200 yards. Orton looked for him often and constantly

found him open as Marshall broke Terrell Owens’ NFL record of 20

catches set in 2000.

Just like that, the temper tantrum in training camp was a fading

memory.

He was firmly back on the radar as an elite wideout.

“Twenty-one catches helped, there’s no question,” Orton said.

“That’s a lot of work for one day for a receiver. … We’ve asked

him to do a lot of different things and he’s handled all of it very

well.”

McDaniels couldn’t agree more.

“Brandon has certainly put himself in a category of really the

top receivers in this conference and in the league,” he said.

Marshall is closing in on the team mark set by Smith, when he

caught 113 passes in 2001. It’s a record Marshall doesn’t think can

fall – at least this season.

“It’s a lot of catches,” Marshall said.

So is 101, considering all he’s gone through.