For one week, Brandon Marshall wasn't the Denver Broncos' prodigious playmaker but their biggest fan.
The skillful third-year wide receiver was suspended for the opener at Oakland for violating the league's code of conduct, so he had to watch his teammates' 41-14 wallop of the Oakland Raiders on TV.
"I was a true fan, I was throwing things and I was really excited," Marshall said Wednesday before his first workout with the team since Aug. 27. "It was a neat experience -- but an experience I would never want to have to deal with again."
Marshall said he gathered some of his buddies to watch the game at his home.
"It was kind of weird for them to be watching a game with me when they should be watching me on TV," Marshall said.
And weird for Marshall, too.
What they saw was rookie Eddie Royal's extraordinary debut in which he caught nine passes for 146 yards, the highest total in the NFL in Week 1 and the introduction by a Broncos rookie receiver since Rick Upchurch's 153-yard performance against Kansas City in 1975.
Marshall, who emerged as quarterback Jay Cutler's top target in a breakout 2007 season, wasn't jealous of Royal's big game. Quite the opposite. He insists he's eager to team with the second-round pick from Virginia Tech and provide the Broncos with a terrific tandem that will give opponents fits.
"Now, teams can't roll coverage to my side or double me, and if they go cover-2, we're just going to pound the ball," Marshall said. "So, I'm excited to have him. But I've been saying this since the first day I saw him. He's a great talent."
Thanks to Royal's big debut, it may not have seemed like the Broncos missed Marshall. Make no mistake, though, they are delighted he's back in time for their home opener against San Diego (0-1) on Sunday.
"A guy like that, it's always good to have out there," Cutler said. "We got by without him and Eddie had a great game. We kind of attacked one guy (cornerback DeAngelo Hall). This game we're going to need him, definitely."
Marshall was originally suspended three games with the possibility of reducing it to two games if he stayed out off the police blotter and in touch with a league-appointed counselor. But it was reduced on appeal to a single game, and the Broncos feel he hasn't been away long enough to get out of shape or rhythm.
Marshall stayed in constant contact with Cutler and worked out in nearby Golden during his suspension.
"It went by pretty fast. I did my best to stay in shape mentally and physically. It was one week. It could have been a lot worse," Marshall said.
Marshall, who goes on trial in a drunken driving case later this month, also spent some of his time away doing charity work, something's he's pledged to do to clean up his image as a talented but troubled football player who can't clean up his act.
Although he wishes he could have been with his teammates in routing the Raiders, he said he's not looking back anymore.
"Everything happens for a reason. Maybe if I was there we might not have put up as many points or we might have put up a little more," Marshall said. "All we have to do is worry about San Diego. That's in the past. And everything in my history is in the past.
"And now I'm just excited about this year."
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