ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) -Brandon Marshall's spectacular start to his second NFL season is all the more impressive considering his tragic and tumultuous offseason.
The Denver Broncos receiver was with Darrent Williams in the moments before the cornerback was gunned down on New Year's Day in downtown Denver, and two months later Marshall played in Damien Nash's charity basketball game in St. Louis before the backup running back dropped dead after leaving the gym.
``When you have a relationship with someone and they're here today and gone tomorrow, it definitely affects you,'' said Marshall, who until this week sported a bald head save for the Nos. 27 and 29 shaved across the back of his crown. ``I'll never forget them, whether they're in my mind or my heart, they'll never be forgotten.''
Marshall also found himself in the news for a domestic dispute with his girlfriend and underwent anger management counseling to have a false imprisonment charge dismissed.
Then, he pulled a quadriceps muscle at a minicamp that sidelined him for almost all of training camp, threatening to rob him of the starting split end job he was slated for following Rod Smith's hip surgery.
Combined with an injury-riddled rookie season, there were growing concerns about whether the fourth-round draft pick from Central Florida would ever live up to the promise that had earned him the nickname ``Baby T.O.'' for his similar build and moves that reminded so many of Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens.
A flustered coach Mike Shanahan finally nudged him back onto the field on Aug. 10 against his wishes. Marshall admitted he was scared to test out his quad, but he quickly overcame the obstacles and caught up.
Now, he has 17 catches so far for a team-best 267 yards and needs just three catches and 42 yards Sunday at Indianapolis to equal his output from his entire rookie season.
``Brandon is as good as he wants to be,'' Shanahan said. ``How many times do you find a guy who is 6-5, 230 pounds that can run under a 4.5 40 with great hands and is very intelligent? He's an excellent blocker. He's very physical. He makes big-time catches and I think he's just going to keep on getting better and better.''
Marshall's emergence gives the Broncos another dimension on their retooled offense.
``Any time he's got the ball in his hands, he can break tackles and go the distance,'' Shanahan said.
Last week against Jacksonville, Marshall set career highs for catches (seven) and yards (133). On one drive, he caught three passes for 91 yards.
``First day I got here I saw him and I knew he had that kind of potential,'' said wide receiver Brandon Stokley, who joined the Broncos this offseason after spending four years in Indianapolis. ``He's playing awesome football right now. Once he catches the ball he's been unbelievable. I don't know who I'd compare the guy to. In a few years, people are going to be comparing guys to him.''
Marshall's size and strength are best displayed on the yards he gains after the catch, such as his 30-yard grab on Sunday when he grabbed a quick slant over the middle and put some jaw-dropping jukes on four defenders on his way to the 1.
``That's all from running back. All my life I was a running back from 6 years old on through high school,'' Marshall said. ``I've got film of me making moves from way back. I used to cut across the field every game.''
In the opener, he harkened to his college days as a defensive back at Central Florida when he put a blindside block on Buffalo's unsuspecting linebacker Mario Haggan to spring Javon Walker on a big gain.
``Whatever situation I'm in, I've got to go back to being aggressive or being smooth out there,'' Marshall said.

Top NFL Public Bets

NFL Top Stories

Thumbnail Chargers vs. Cowboys Prediction Will the Dallas Cowboys end their two-game losing skid when they host the Los Angeles Chargers at Thanksgiving Day? Kickoff for the second game of the Turkey Day...
Thumbnail Vikings vs. Lions Pick Can the Minnesota Vikings take complete control of the NFC North and get past the Detroit Lions when the two...
Thumbnail Giants vs. Redskins Total Pick Will the over cash for bettors when the Washington Redskins and New York Giants on Thursday night when the NFC East rivals clash at 8:30 p.m. ET?
Thumbnail Chargers vs. Cowboys Total Pick Will the Los Angeles Chargers and Dallas Cowboys combine for enough points to push the score over the betting total when the two teams meet at 4:30 p.m. ET on...
Week 12 NFL Survivor Pool Picks 11/21/17
Tuesday, 21 November 2017
Thumbnail Week 12 NFL Survivor Pool Picks Need help making your selection of your NFL survivor pool? As we do every Tuesday, here are three options for Week 12 to help push you deeper into your NFL survivor...

NFL Team Pages