Josh McDaniels and Brandon Marshall are at it again.
Four months after the Broncos' head coach had suspended Marshall for nine days because of insubordination, McDaniels said Friday that his Pro Bowl wide receiver would be deactivated for Sunday's key game against Kansas City, saying it was "a coaching decision," not an injury issue. McDaniels implied that he was taking the action because Marshall was exaggerating his right hamstring injury and not being accountable to his teammates.
"Our word for the week has been accountability," McDaniels said, according to The Associated Press. "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. ... And anybody that showed any indifference to that, we'll play without them.
"... There's a number of players that are going to play on Sunday with things that are much more difficult to deal with than what he has."
For his part, Marshall said the hamstring injury, which he suffered Wednesday in practice, likely would have rendered him ineffective Sunday if he had tried to play. He didn't practice Thursday or Friday. However, he took umbrage at the suggestion that he was giving anything less than 100 percent to the team.
"I don't think Coach (McDaniels) ever played in the NFL, so for my hamstring to be feeling the way it felt, it's tough for me to go out there and expect to play at a high level," Marshall said. "I've battled through a whole lot of injuries before. I played the whole year last year with a tear in my hip. So, I don't think my toughness is in question here."
Marshall also objected to the suggestion that he wasn't buying into McDaniels' program.
"I'm a guy who's been giving it up a lot for this team," Marshall said. He also said that the issue with McDaniels might have something to do with the team's downward spiral. (It has won only two of its last nine games following a 6-0 start.)
Denver is already short on receivers, as rookie Kenny McKinley was placed on injured reserve this week. Eddie Royal sat out in Week 16 with head and neck injuries. The Broncos have to beat Kansas City and need some help from other teams in order to make the playoffs.
Marshall, who is headed to his second consecutive Pro Bowl, has 101 catches for 1,120 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.
A fourth-round pick in 2006, Marshall, who had asked for a new contract during the offseason and then requested a trade, is in the final year of a rookie contract that's paying him $2.2 million this season. He's due to become an unrestricted free agent in March, but if a new Collective Bargaining Agreement isn't signed by then, he'll be a restricted free agent — with much less negotiating leverage.
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