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Sunday, August 24, 2008
Denver's Cutler will survive with Marshall out


Posted by ESPN.com' s Bill Williamson

As Denver receiver Brandon Marshall serves what likely will be a two-game suspension to start the season, he will be greatly missed by QB Jay Cutler.

Marshall caught 10 of Cutler's 30 completions in the preseason, and the pair appear to have a certain comfort level. Yet, while Marshall is Cutler's most frequent target, he does look to other players when he needs a big play. Cutler loves tight end Tony Scheffler and receivers Brandon Stokley and Eddie Royal.

Even though they have been together for just a short time, it's clear Cutler and Royal have a good working relationship. Royal, Denver's second-round draft choice from Virginia Tech, had an outstanding offseason and followed up with a strong training camp and preseason. Watch for Cutler and Royal to hook up early and often on long pass plays.

The veteran Stokley is a smart possession receiver who thrives in third down situations. The No. 3 receiver was a favorite of Peyton Manning in Indianapolis and has earned the trust of Cutler as well.

Scheffler hasn't played much in the preseason with the first team but Denver insiders believe Scheffler is poised for a big season. He and Cutler are close friends and have bonded on field since Cutler was a No. 1 draft choice and Scheffler was a No. 2 draft choice in 2006.

While Cutler and Denver will be much better off when Marshall returns, Cutler should have enough weapons to be competitive while Marshall sits.