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 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) -Brandon Marshall cradled the ball in the crook of his arm as he breezed around the corner of a hallway just outside the locker room Thursday.
An equipment manager crept up behind the Denver Broncos receiver, swiping at the ball and sending it to the carpet.
Just his luck - another fumble.
Marshall's turnover tendency has become a concern for him.
That's why he's resorted to toting a football around with him this week, enticing teammates and team personnel to take swats at it, forcing him to keep the ball secure. The talented wideout has fumbled three times this season, losing two, including one deep in Jacksonville territory during a 24-17 loss Sunday.
``I've never had a fumbling problem,'' he said.
Or had his confidence shaken quite like this.
Marshall has always had a healthy dose of bravado, believing no one could cover or catch him, but his ego has suddenly taken a hit.
es, maybe even go to the ground instead of grinding for extra yards.
He backed off that ploy Thursday, realizing being conservative is not in his nature. He's bold and aggressive, not safe and cautious.
Marshall simply can't change his ways.
``That's what makes me, me,'' Marshall said. ``I could be a great receiver without all those fancy moves, but that's what keeps me playing this game. I have fun out there.''
Marshall's teammates wince at the thought of him changing so much as a cutback or a juke. They want to see him break tackles, not break for the sideline.
``Brandon makes plays,'' tailback Michael Pittman said. ``None of us want Brandon to taper down his game. He just needs to keep doing what he's doing - breaking tackles and making plays.''
The idea to clutch the ball all week was Marshall's own creation, something he used to do as a kid. Only back then, he carried the ball around out of love for the game, sleeping with it close by, even taking the ball to school under his arm.
Coach Mike Shanahan thinks his receiver's remedy to his fumbling affliction is perfect.
``Good idea,'' he said after practice, upon hearing of his wideout's self-imposed therapy.
Marshall is having a monster season, leading the league with 43 receptions. That despite missing the opener after being suspended by the commissioner for a game following a series of off-the-field transgressions.
Upon his return, though, Marshall caught a franchise-record 18 passes in a win over San Diego. It was also the second-most catches for a game in NFL history, falling two shy of Terrell Owens' mark set in 2000.
That was Marshall at his best.
This is Marshall at his worst.
``I feel like those two fumbles that I had this year were crucial to the losses and played a big role in it,'' Marshall said. ``I'm just going to do a better job of holding onto the football.''
Marshall has analyzed both plays in which he fumbled. In each case, he was trying to make something out of nothing.
Against Kansas City, Marshall was trying to get away from linebacker Derrick Johnson, who had disrupted the play from the beginning. Marshall went to push Johnson away and the ball was poked free.
``I could've done a better job of just taking what they gave us and just got down,'' Marshall conceded.
In the Jacksonville contest, Marshall caught a short pass from Jay Cutler and tried to scoot by a defender, only to have the ball squirt free without anyone so much as laying a glove on him.
That play still causes him to flinch.
``I dropped the ball,'' the University of Central Florida product said as he shook his head. ``It was one of those things where you get caught up in the moment and the situation of the game, and you forget about the most important thing - ball security.''
That's why Marshall is hauling around the ball - so he won't forget again.

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