A plethora of injuries/soap operas hit the Broncos this preseason, but no player’s absence hurt Denver’s development more than that of rookie running back Knowshon Moreno. While he may not be the key to this offense’s success, he has the most breakout potential and his absence due to an MCL sprain surely hindered his maturation process.
He looked solid in short action during the team’s first preseason game, but has barely even taken the practice field since the knee injury.
Moreno could very well be Pro Bowl caliber running back by this time next year, especially considering he already possesses the blocking and receiving skills necessary to succeed in the NFL.
He has ideal size and speed with a knack for hitting the correct hole and hitting it hard. He will be used often as a receiving back, but will get plenty of carries as the year progresses.
Moreno’s fellow backs are capable veterans, but he will need to succeed if the Denver running game expects to.
With Moreno missing much of the preseason, Buckhalter looks to be the starter for week one. However, he will only hold the spot as long as Moreno allows it.
An extremely diverse back with excellent receiving skills, Buckhalter seems to be a perfect fit in the Broncos offense and would have fit right in during McDaniels’ days in New England.
Even if Moreno does take Buckhalter’s role atop the depth chart, he will serve as a quality back all season as a Kevin Faulk type.
Well, he’s not going to lead the team in rushing as he did in 2008 for an injury-ravaged Denver backfield, however, Peyton Hillis will serve an integral role in Denver’s new system due to his ability to line up all over the field.
Expect McDaniels to use him in much the same way he used Heath Evans with the Patriots. Hillis will serve as a fullback/halfback combo and be given small essential assignments in McDaniels’ complex packages.
His numbers won’t be too impressive, but expect a few juicy goal line carries that could result in some scores.
Lamont Jordan struggled with a calf injury for much of his 2008 season with the Patriots, and has continued to spend plenty of time on the sidelines this preseason with injuries.
After McDaniels signed him to a 2-year, $2.5 million deal, Jordan promptly underperformed at camp and nearly lost his roster spot to Notre Dame product Darius Walker (who found a home on the Denver practice squad).
While his experience in the offense makes him a valuable guy to have around for a team still learning the system, don’t expect Jordan to stick around long or get many carries this season.
It all comes down to Moreno.
If he can capitalize on his wealth of potential, then the Denver backs should each find their roles in an offense that calls for RB’s aplenty and the backfield will flourish. If he struggles to adapt to the pro game, then the Broncos are looking at a stable of also-rans that isn’t going to impress anyone.
Check out this last look at the QB's