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Broncos' LB tandem a testament to late bloomers and scouting eye

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Maybe when you get released three times by the same team, you get your hackles up a bit about what some in the outside world think about your abilities. But Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall has consistently said that people, given time and the chance to watch him play, would eventually notice what kind of player he is for the Broncos.

Well, the folks who build the software for EA Sports’ “Madden NFL 17’’ video game certainly have. Marshall has the second-highest player rating among inside linebackers -- he was rated at 90, behind only the Carolina Panthers’ Luke Kuechly, at 99.

“It feels great -- that's pretty dope,’’ Marshall said. “I didn't even think that I would get to a 90 [rating], so I've got to step it up. Hopefully I can get up there in the mid-90s.’’

Marshall, who signed a four-year, $32 million contract extension in June, has had back-to-back 100-tackle seasons -- 113 in 2014 and 102 last season -- and led the team in tackles in ’14. Not bad for a guy who was cut three times by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2012 and was told he likely wasn’t good enough to play in the league.

But Marshall will have a new player next to him on the inside of the Broncos' 3-4 defense this season, given Danny Trevathan signed with the Chicago Bears in free agency. Todd Davis has spent much of the offseason program and the early portion of training camp working at the other inside linebacker spot in the starting defense.

The combination of Marshall and Davis on the inside of what was the league’s No. 1 defense in 2015, offers a testament to late bloomers and the Broncos’ pro scouting department. While Marshall was cut three times before he was signed by the Broncos, the team claimed Davis off waivers from New Orleans in November 2014.

“Me and Todd have a natural chemistry, so I'm excited,’’ Marshall said. “Todd is a hell of a player and everybody will see soon. He's taking a lot of first-team reps and he's doing a hell of a job, so unless Coach says otherwise, I think that's what it's going to be.”

Davis played in nine games for the Broncos in 2014, with eight starts, and then played in all 16 games last season to go with all three playoff games. But with Trevathan’s departure, the Broncos saw enough in Davis and Corey Nelson to not make a major signing at linebacker in free agency and the team did not use a draft pick on the position in April.

“It feels tremendous,’’ Davis said. “Last year, I was able to run with the ones a little bit because [OLB] Von Miller was injured. I feel at home. I feel like I am right where I need to be. I just need to keep progressing and working hard, and we’ll be where we need to be as a team. … It gives me a feeling of comfortability. It allows me just to play my game, work hard, compete every day and just be me.”

“We've talked a lot in the past about my path and his path and what needs to be done,’’ Marshall said. “Todd is hungry. If I had to describe him in one word, it's hunger. Todd's going to be a great player, I promise you.”