Denver Broncos: Has Knowshon Moreno Proven He Is Denver's Starter?

Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IIJanuary 7, 2013

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 30: Running back Knowshon Moreno #27 of the Denver Broncos rushes during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 30, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Chiefs 38-3. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos are the hottest team in football right now.

They finished the regular season at 13-3, got the first seed in the AFC playoffs and have won 11 straight games.

What's more, they have an MVP candidate in Peyton Manning this year.

The Broncos are getting ready to face the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday. With so much focus going on Manning and Ray Lewis, some players are going under the radar into this game.

One such player is Knowshon Moreno.

Moreno was a popular running back at the University of Georgia several years ago. The team had a high-powered offense, which included Moreno and Matthew Stafford, and both players looked pro-ready for a while.

Moreno was taken 12th overall in the 2009 NFL draft. He had a fairly good rookie year, running for 947 yards and seven scores. However, injuries slowed him down over the next two years and he only played in 20 games.

After a rough first few weeks, Moreno was deactivated for the majority of this year. After fumbling the ball away in Week 2, the Broncos decided to give Ronnie Hillman more opportunities. 

However, once Willis McGahee was injured and declared out indefinitely, the Broncos reactivated Moreno. Since then, he has been a productive back in all areas.

The running game for Moreno has been solid. While Manning is expected to throw a lot, Moreno has offered a bit of balance to the offense. In the past six games, Moreno has run for 510 yards and three scores. 

Moreno has also been a solid pass protector for Manning. With the injury to McGahee, this was the main reason that the Broncos reactivated him. His aggressiveness in pass blocking has given Manning even more time to throw to open receivers. 

What is perhaps the nicest surprise from Moreno is that he has become a reliable option receiving out of the backfield. Since being reactivated, he has had 20 catches for 155 yards. If he had played all 16 games, his receiving numbers would have been pretty impressive for a running back.

The Broncos should be impressed by Moreno so far. With McGahee aging and Moreno beginning to hit his prime, the Broncos should consider starting Moreno next year as well.