NFL Rumors: Is Knowshon Moreno Part of Denver Broncos' Long-Term Plans?

Chris TrapassoAnalyst IMay 26, 2012

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 12:  Running back  Knowshon Moreno #27 of the Denver Broncos rushes against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 12, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Raiders defeated the Broncos 23-20.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Knowshon Moreno, the Denver Broncos 2009 first-round pick, may have already played his last down in the Mile High City. 

While the Peyton Manning-led offense will be drastically different than the Tim Tebow-led offense, a balanced and well-established running game will be vital to the team's attack.

Per Lindsay Jones of the Denver Post (via Rotoworld), the running back is "fighting for a roster spot." This won't come as a major surprise to many Broncos fans, who've witnessed the former Georgia Bulldogs standout miss 11 games due to injury over the last two seasons. Even when healthy last year, he lost his starting job to veteran Willis McGahee and was used sparingly for a guy selected at No. 13 overall in his respective draft.

Moreno had only 37 carries for 179 yards, and he didn't score a rushing touchdown through eight games in 2011.

The problem with Moreno is that his propensity to get injured stems from the ultra-physical running style he employs at 5'10'' and 200 pounds. 

Coming off of a torn ACL after losing his job to McGahee, it'll be difficult for Moreno to instantly reemerge as the team's starting runner. Add in the presence of third-round pick Ronnie Hillman, and it's easy to see that there's a realistic shot Moreno is on the outside looking in on cut day this summer.

His cap hit is only $1.6 million in 2012, but if the Broncos deem him too unreliable, they'll gladly release him to make room for another player who's bound to make more of a contribution this season.

Hillman's the key to Moreno's fate more than anything else. 

It was glaringly obvious that Denver wasn't thrilled with Moreno's play or injury history when they drafted the San Diego State star this April. Hillman is a smaller scat-back with supreme athleticism and lateral quickness to operate in a third-down, checkdown-option role for Manning. 

If he impresses during training camp and the preseason, he'll supplant Moreno on the depth chart, which would presumably call for the end of Moreno's time with the Broncos. 

At this juncture for Denver, they'd probably be better off without him.