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NFL notebook

On the bubble, Denver troubled

Brandon Marshall has an injured hamstring, but coach Josh McDaniels is calling it a benching. Brandon Marshall has an injured hamstring, but coach Josh McDaniels is calling it a benching.
Associated Press / January 2, 2010

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Just when they finally patched things up, Brandon Marshall and Josh McDaniels are back to disagreeing, and another reconciliation appears farfetched.

Broncos coach McDaniels said yesterday he’s benching his Pro Bowl wide receiver for the team’s pivotal season finale against Kansas City tomorrow.

“Our word for the week has been accountability. And we’re looking to put the 45 guys on the field on Sunday that want to play together, want to help us try to win and qualify for the playoffs,’’ McDaniels said. “And anybody that showed any indifference to that, we’ll play without them.’’

Marshall suggested he couldn’t have played anyway after pulling his right hamstring at practice this week.

In an extraordinary half-hour at Broncos headquarters, McDaniels insinuated on the podium that Marshall was exaggerating the extent of his injury and was unaccountable to the team. The Pro Bowl receiver responded from his locker by noting McDaniels never played in the NFL and hinting he might be getting called out by his coach because the Broncos’ season is unraveling.

Since a 6-0 start, the Broncos have gone 2-7.

They’ll try to make the playoffs tomorrow without their 100-catch receiver or tight end Tony Scheffler, demoted to the scout team, and maybe minus wide receiver Eddie Royal, who has a head injury.

Painful reminders
Dolphins running back Ricky Williams is questionable for the season finale because of a shoulder injury. The Dolphins (7-8) play the Steelers tomorrow clinging to slim playoff hopes. Williams was limited in practice Thursday and yesterday. The injury occurred in last Sunday’s loss to Houston, when Williams missed much of the second half . . . Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel missed a third consecutive day of practice because of a neck injury and is questionable for tomorrow. Safety Troy Polamalu (left knee) practiced on a limited basis for the third day in a row but isn’t expected to play . . . Michael Vick practiced again yesterday and is expected to be the backup quarterback when the Eagles visit Dallas tomorrow. Vick didn’t play in last Sunday’s victory over Denver because of a quadriceps contusion. He normally backs up Donovan McNabb and takes a few snaps each game in Philadelphia’s variation of the wildcat offense . . . The Panthers’ DeAngelo Williams is doubtful and fellow running back Jonathan Stewart is questionable for the season finale tomorrow against New Orleans. Williams missed yesterday’s workout and hasn’t played or practiced since spraining his left ankle against Minnesota Dec. 20. Stewart returned to practice yesterday after sitting the past two days to rest his sore left Achilles’ tendon. Both have rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season . . . Chargers coach Norv Turner says backup quarterback Billy Volek will get some playing time in tomorrow’s meaningless regular-season finale against the Redskins, meaning Philip Rivers will see limited action. The AFC West champions have nothing to gain except to avoid more injuries. They’ve already clinched a first-round bye.

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