While the entire football universe was focused in on the Denver Broncos three quarterbacks, it’s the Denver running backs who impressed in the second preseason outing.
The Broncos staple of managed 110 yards on 21 carries with all four back getting their touches; nine for Devontae Booker, six for C.J. Anderson, three for Kapri Bibbs, and three for Ronnie Hillman.
While every coach wants a reliable option under center, Gary Kubiak’s offense has always been predicated on the run game. This year, more than ever, the impact of the run will have to be felt.
“I think we ran the ball pretty well,” assessed the head coach. “Especially last week, we ran the ball pretty well. We did not run the ball much in the first-week numbers-wise. I think our run game has looked pretty good out here in practice against a really good group. We have a lot of confidence that we’re going to be able to do that. On any given day, I still think we’re pretty good at wide receiver, and we’ll let them go make some plays. We just have to keep working.”
Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, a loyal ally of the coach, who shares his football views, agreed with the assessment.
“I think we took a step [forward] last week,” said Dennison. “The previous week against Chicago we made some plays, but a few of them got called back. I think we made a lot of positive yards. Obviously, a big run by C.J. [Anderson] early helped out. Once you have confidence running the ball early, then you continue to do it. Runs at the end of the game tend to be longer because you’re fresh. You feel like you’re getting on them. Being persistent is one of the things we preach.”
Anderson has looked good thus far in the preseason, in part thanks to a commitment to starting fast and treating the preseason like it’s a real game. The newest member of the group, Booker, has also been impressive in spurts this preseason.
During Tuesday's press conference, Dennison was noncommittal on the impact that the rookie would have this year, though he did talk about the improvements he’s seen in Booker thus far.
“He’s just more confident on where things should go—his pass protection and being more aggressive and sound fundamentally.”
Booker and Anderson are shoe-ins to make the roster, while Bibbs and Hillman are still very much competing for a spot on the teams final 53.
“We’re dealing with a great stable of backs right now, and this competition is going to go all year, even into the season,” said Bibbs. “We’re all competing for snaps. Right now we’re competing to make the team, and then after that, it’s competing to take snaps. I’m dialed in, and I’m ready to keep battling.”
Bibbs made the best of his three carries Saturday with 23 yards, highlighted by a 16-yard run. He’s impressed throughout the offseason, much like the entire running back corps has.
As obsessed as we’ve all rightfully been about this quarterback battle, the Broncos backs might just be the key to offensive success this season.