Royce Freeman Named Broncos' Starting RB over Devontae Booker

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2018

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 11:  Royce Freeman #37 of the Denver Broncos warming up before a game against the Minnesota Vikings during week one of preseason at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on August 11, 2018 in Denver, Colorado.  The Vikings defeated the Broncos 42-28.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph confirmed Monday that rookie running back Royce Freeman will start the team's Week 1 game Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.

Troy Renck of Denver7 shared video of Joseph's comments:

Ryan O'Halloran of the Denver Post first reported Freeman would be listed ahead of Devontae Booker on the depth chart.

The Broncos selected the 22-year-old University of Oregon product in the third round of April's draft, and he proceeded to shine during the preseason.

Freeman tallied 15 attempts for 84 yards (5.6 yards per carry) and three touchdowns during the exhibition slate. He added one catch for six yards.

"I think I showed durability and the ability to be there game in, game out," he told reporters in June about his time with the Ducks. "I think I showed at Oregon I can deliver the blow as a runner. I'm excited to compete, and we have a good environment in the running back room. I think we do want to see each other do well."

His upside made him the most intriguing option for Denver.

Booker averaged a mediocre 3.6 yards per attempt across 29 appearances for the Broncos during his first two NFL seasons. He averaged 3.7 yards on nine carries during the preseason.

"For me, being an every-down back comes to catching, blocking, gaining positive yards and helping the team move forward through possessions," Booker said last month. "I believe I can do all of those things. I just keep working on my craft each day."

He added: "I'm still a home run hitter."

Ultimately, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Freeman and Booker split playing time in the early weeks, while undrafted free agent Phillip Lindsay could also work into the rotation.

Freeman could earn a lion's share of the touches if he continues to shine during the first few games, though.

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