ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --The stellar play of Brandon Marshall in place of Danny Trevathan spawned plenty of chatter about how the two linebackers will be used when Trevathan returns to the 53-man roster after missing the last eight games because of a crack above his knee.
Will Trevathan assume his old starting spot at weakside linebacker? Will Marshall retain it, with Trevathan working in the nickel sub package next to Marshall? Or will one of the two move to middle linebacker, allowing both to play every down?
The two worked alongside each other in the nickel package in training camp and again in the Week 5 romp over Arizona, the only game Trevathan played from start to finish this season. The Broncos allowed a season-low nine first downs in the 41-20 win, although some of their success was aided by Arizona being down to its No. 3 quarterback, Logan Thomas, by the third quarter.
That game only scratched the surface of what Trevathan and Marshall might accomplish as a duo, with the power to fill gaps and prevent runs from reaching the second level and the speed for sideline-to-sideline pursuit.
"We're going to fit together. That's speed out there. That's athleticism," said Trevathan. "And that's what the league has came to now, that kind of a third-down linebacker: quick speedster, be able to make plays and we both fit in that category."
It was the need for speed with a dose of power that helped lead the Broncos to safety T.J. Ward as a nickel linebacker in recent weeks working alongside Marshall. When Trevathan returns, Ward can go back to his primary role, but his success in the pass rush, particularly in forcing three hurried Kyle Orton throws last week, could open up opportunities for him to blitz, even when Trevathan is back.
"A lot of people say we're not aggressive but you check film and see how aggressive we really are," said Trevathan.
Trevathan's aggression might be helped by his readiness to return -- whenever that comes. He wouldn't commit to it happening this weekend, even though he is eligible for activation from recallable injured reserve and has practiced for two weeks.
"I'm not going to say I'm not or I'm going to play," he said, "but right now I feel good and I'm just loving being out there with my team."
And he's confident of being at full speed.
"It's amazing to see how they're playing right now, and when I come back, man, it's going to be something to watch, man, because all of us click together so well," he said. "It's just fun out there playing with them."
And the possibilities of Marshall and Trevathan together are limitless. The third-day picks from the 2012 draft are ideal fits for the weak side in the Broncos' scheme: quick, decisive and physical, with the ability to drop into coverage and make plays, like Marshall did last week intercepting an Orton pass intended for tight end Scott Chandler.
""He's definitely stepped up in the absence of Danny," said linebacker Von Miller. "At the beginning of the season when he came in, I knew what type of player he was going be and I knew what type of plays he was going to make for us.
"Everything that he's doing is not a surprise to me because I've seen him do it week-in-and-week-out in practice."
And when Trevathan is finally back to full speed after missing 11 of the last 13 games, nothing he does will be a surprise, given what he demonstrated last year in becoming one of the foundations of the defense.
"It's going to be something to watch when me and 'B' get together," Trevathan said. "That's all I'm going to say."
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Check out the best snaps from Wednesday's practice, where the players were wearing hats and Ronnie Hillman was back on the field.