ENGLEWOOD • What began as a simple hamstring injury for Brandon Marshall has turned into another episode in a long and tumultuous relationship between the Pro Bowl receiver and the Denver Broncos.
Marshall will be deactivated for Sunday’s game against Kansas City, coach Josh McDaniels announced on Friday. McDaniels questioned the severity of Marshall’s injury in making the announcement.
Marshall hurt himself early in practice on Wednesday. He said he had a MRI test that showed no structural damage, but he didn’t feel completely healthy.
“There are a lot of players that will play with a lot of things on Sunday that are a lot worse than that,” McDaniels said.
McDaniels said he told the players on Wednesday that accountability would be stressed this week. Apparently, that doesn’t apply to just Marshall. McDaniels also questioned tight end Tony Scheffler’s commitment to playing within the team structure, and the Denver Post reported Scheffler already has been informed he won’t play Sunday.
That leaves Denver without two of its most talented offensive players as it tries to make the playoffs. There are scenarios in which 8-7 Denver can make the playoffs with a loss to the Chiefs, but they are farfetched. The Broncos’ most realistic scenarios to make the playoffs all involve beating the Chiefs, then getting help. If the New York Jets and Baltimore win on Sunday, the Broncos will be eliminated from the playoffs.
“Coach is doing what’s best for this team and he’s putting the guys out there we think we can win with this week,” tight end Daniel Graham said.
If the Broncos do make the playoffs, they’ll have to decide whether Marshall and Scheffler will return to the lineup. They also need to make tough decisions on both of them this offseason, when they become free agents.
Marshall, who is second in the NFL with 101 receptions this season, has had a controversial year. He had hip surgery, and said the Broncos’ training staff misdiagnosed his injury last year. He requested a trade and held out of a mandatory minicamp in June. During training camp he acted out at practice, at one point punting a ball away during a drill, and was suspended for two preseason games for conduct detrimental to the team.
He returned and his season was going well before this week. Although Marshall’s future with the team is cloudy at best after McDaniels’ decision and his stinging criticism, Marshall wouldn’t add to the drama by saying anything about his future with the team.
“I’m going to be professional about the whole thing,” Marshall said. “I love my teammates, my teammates love me. This has been a really smooth season for us as far as just communication and just growing as a person, as a professional athlete. So, I’m going to continue to do that.”