With revamped attitude, Marshall turns around year
Since ditching his surly attitude, Brandon Marshall has
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
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
However, Marshall doesn’t plan on doing much scoreboard
“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
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
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
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
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.