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Scouting Notebook: A flaw in the Marshall plan

Michael Salfino
Yahoo Sports

You can find more from Michael Salfino at Comcast SportsNet Chicago

Let's look back on last week's developments in this Scouting Notebook. Up next, the one exhibition game that everyone cares about – the full Week 3 dress rehearsal.

Brandon Marshall(notes) is in limbo now in Denver. Do not draft him as anything more than a high-end No. 3 receiver, which means do not draft him. He admits to not learning the Broncos playbook in an effort to grease the skids for a move out of town. Problem is, if he's traded now he needs to learn another playbook. Remember how the in-season transition of Roy Williams went last season in Dallas; Williams is at least as physically gifted as Marshall, who also is recovering from hip surgery.

Jason Witten(notes) is now the No. 1 weapon in the Dallas passing game. So teams will make stopping him their top priority – knocking him around at the snap and then bracketing him downfield. Witten will find relief only if Roy Williams steps up and consistently hurts defenses vertically, but Williams does not play or practice with passion.

Another headwind for Witten is the use of the two-tight ends, which Dallas is reportedly considering as a base offense. Martellus Bennett(notes) is a hybrid-type of receiver and thus might cut into Witten's workload significantly, especially in the red zone.

Jay Cutler(notes) was to Eli Manning(notes) on Saturday night as filet mignon is to bottom round. The superior arm strength, accuracy and mobility so clearly on display are why he's rightfully being drafted at least one round higher than Manning on average (77th overall, according to MockDraftCentral.com).

Another young QB early on the road towards greatness is Atlanta's Matt Ryan(notes), who looks even better than last year. Yes, the Falcons have a tougher schedule. But Ryan is going to be tougher for opponents to deal with, too.

Forget schedules this time of year. Half the teams we think are good will be much worse and vice versa with the teams we think are bad. That's the NFL today with all the player movement, injuries and coaching/system changes.

Reggie Bush(notes) is embarking on his 12-step program to be a better inside runner, but his problem is not decisiveness. In the NFL, it's not speed to the hole, it's speed through the hole. You have to cruise those first couple of steps waiting for the blocking to develop.

The Bills are sticking with the no-huddle and that's always been a wise QB/WR investment. There's a much higher ceiling for the Bills contingent than market price now indicates, especially where QB Trent Edwards(notes) is concerned.

If Derek Anderson(notes) is named Browns starter, it's a tailwind for Braylon Edwards(notes) given that Anderson showed again this weekend that he's the Cleveland QB who can find the small windows downfield.

Browns rookie RB James Davis is being compared to Terrell Davis as a guy who once was much more highly regarded than the typical sixth-round pick. But the Browns aren't the Mike Shanahan Broncos when it comes to having a plug-in running game.

Brett Favre(notes) completed his first Vikings pass to Percy Harvin(notes), who has a chance to be a possession/big-play/gadget-play guy as a rookie. Yes, Bernard Berrian(notes) has the highest floor, but I only worry about ceilings at the spots where both of these guys will be drafted (middle-late rounds).

The Jacksonville offensive line looked professional this weekend after seeming semi-pro last Monday night versus the Dolphins. Who knows about David Garrard(notes), who holds the ball too long, and his receivers. No improvements were made to the defense (31st in yards per pass attempt last year). This easily could be a 5-11 team again. Yet you never hear "bad environment" cited as a strike against trendy No. 1 pick (in points per reception) Maurice Jones-Drew(notes).

Tom Brady(notes) wanted to get hit. And the Bengals, of all teams, granted his wish. The Patriots were 26th in sack percentage allowed last year. Brady owners and those heavily invested in Randy Moss(notes) better hope that was all Matt Cassel's(notes) fault.

It's going to be really tough for the Lions to name Matthew Stafford(notes) starter off that bad game against the Browns. Calvin Johnson(notes) will eat no matter who is at QB, but Daunte Culpepper(notes) is greatly preferred in the short term.

Giants RB Danny Ware(notes), a well-sized slasher, is the Brandon Jacobs(notes) handcuff. The G-Men view scat-back-like Ahmad Bradshaw(notes) strictly as a change of pace. Remember, the Giants running game is blue collar – see the hole, hit the hole.

Tim Hightower(notes) ran with a purpose in trying to keep the No. 1 running back job. Chris Wells(notes) can't get on the field, let alone stay there. Durability was the major red flag with him, causing him to slide down to the Cardinals in the draft. I'd happily grab Hightower now at least two rounds after someone tabs Wells.

Michael Salfino’s work has appeared in USA Today’s Sports Weekly, RotoWire, dozens of newspapers nationwide and most recently throughout Comcast SportsNet and NESN. Michael also covers the Jets and Giants each week for SNY.tv.

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