Quick—in the history of the Pac-10, who are the only two running backs to have gained over 2,000 yards in a single season?
Answer: Marcus Allen and J.J. Arrington.
J.J. who? In 2004, J.J. Arrington gained 2,018 rushing yards with the Cal Bears , putting in at least a 100-yard effort for each game that season.
In the NFL , with the Arizona Cardinals , Arrington had an intriguing career. During his stint with AZ in 2008 he was handed the rock 31 times, rushed for 187 yards, averaged 6.0 yards per carry, and got into the end zone once.
The ball was caught by him 29 times for 255 yards and an additional TD. He fumbled the ball only one time last year.
J.J. is but a mere 5'9" and tips the scale at just over 200 lbs.
He's scrappy, elusive, and speedy. He can get around the outside. Though he's too small to be a true feature back, he does bring an awful lot to the table. There's reason to believe that he will thrive in the Denver Broncos system.
He'll be plugged in as the Broncos' punt and kick returner. This will be a needed reprieve of those duties for the rising star that is Eddie Royal. Arrington, although not spectacular as a return man, will be solid and smart in fulfilling this role.
Still, it will be interesting to see him as a punt returner (in Arizona he only returned kickoffs). With his speedy cuts and dancing, he seems especially suited for this role.
He will make some appearances in the backfield, but often as a passing option. His hands are exceptional, and he's quick to adjust after the catch.
When the ball is dumped off to him on short passes, the slashing and juking starts, and he becomes a real threat for some big chunks of yardage, especially if he's out on the edge. He's very exciting to watch in this situation.
He developed into a reasonable blocker in Arizona. His size limits him, but he's not afraid to get his body in there and scrap—Mighty Mouse with an attitude.
He's the perfect match for a quarterback like Kyle Orton and a coach like Josh McDaniels—short dump-off passes and yardage after the catch. Opposing defenses will have to have an eye on him whenever he's on the field because he brings an unpredictable element to the game.
Because he can do anything (run, catch, block), he's tough to defend against.
There's a good chance that Arrington will emerge as a major and heavily utilized force in this newly rebuilt Broncos club. Think Darren Sproles, San Diego's exciting and dynamic all-purpose running back.
Broncos fans should expect to fall in love with this guy. He accepts his role, he's humble and soft-spoken, and he's very smart.
On the field, he will get fans up out of their seats every time he touches the ball by bringing a kinesthetic energy to an otherwise standard backfield.
Going into his sixth year as a pro, this could prove to be Arrington's breakthrough season. He's certainly in the right system to make it happen.
A healthy Arrington is the perfect complement to the yet untapped (but tantalizing) potential of Knowshon Moreno in his sophomore year. Add a power goal-line back to the mix, and the Broncos could possess a second to none running back committee throughout 2010.
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