Updated: December 31, 2009 at 12:00 am
ENGLEWOOD • The Denver Broncos’ dominating presence on offense is limping around with a hamstring injury, a few days before the team battles to keep its playoff hopes alive.
Brandon Marshall suffered the injury Wednesday and didn’t practice Thursday. Marshall has 101 catches, which is second in the AFC, and was named to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday.
Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, who doesn’t like talking about injuries, didn’t say whether Marshall will play this week.
“I don’t know,” McDaniels said. “We’ll see.”
The Broncos did get some potential help on offense, because receiver Eddie Royal (head/neck) and tight end Daniel Graham (knee) returned to practice on a limited basis. Both missed Wednesday’s practice. Royal didn’t play against the Eagles last week because of the injury.
Marshall’s importance to the offense has grown significantly over the past couple of months. Over the last eight weeks Marshall has 68 catches. Jabar Gaffney is second among Broncos receivers during that stretch with 19 receptions. Marshall has six of Denver’s 11 receiving touchdowns in the team’s past eight games.
“Throughout the entire year, he has seen the other team’s best secondary players, he’s seen some double-coverage and we’ve asked him to do a lot of different things, and he’s handled all of it very well,” quarterback Kyle Orton said.
If Marshall can’t play or is limited, players like Gaffney, Brandon Stokley and perhaps Royal will have to contribute more.
“We have great confidence in the guys that will play,” McDaniels said. “I have great faith we’ll play well at that spot.”
A NFL spokesman said Stokley was fined $25,000 for making contact with an official while arguing a call during Sunday’s game at Philadelphia. Stokley was ejected from the game.