This is beginning to feel like a very special year if you are a Denver Broncos fan. Not only does QB Peyton Manning come back from four neck surgeries and play as if he was 26 again, but this team is reinventing the phrase “next man up” in a way that is almost unheard of in the NFL. But this story is about a forgotten running back named Knowshon Moreno that was literally in the doghouse for eight straight weeks as a healthy scratch.
For those eight weeks, Moreno was the captain of the Broncos scout team, just waiting for an opportunity to prove that he can still play in this league. Throughout those eight weeks, nobody heard any grumblings, read any irritated tweets, or even saw Moreno cause the littlest bit of trouble in the locker room. The 12th overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft merely came to work, biding his time, while awaiting the chance to be “next man up.”
Five games ago, starting RB Willis McGahee tore his MCL and was promptly placed on the injured reserve/designated to return list, in which it would be possible for him to rejoin the Broncos if they made it to the AFC Championship game. The mindset at the time from most fans would be that Head Coach John Fox would go with a combination of rookie Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball as the primary run game. Fox surprised everyone when Moreno was not only activated, but was given the starting gig, with Hillman rarely seen.
Now four weeks later, Moreno was chosen for the AFC Offensive Player of the Week Award, after a 22-carry, 118-yard performance against the Baltimore Ravens. This has got to be a bittersweet situation for the Georgia product who was touted as the next great Denver running back, but because of injuries and lack of faith from his coaches, he simply has not been given a chance to succeed as a primary back since his rookie season.
Showing good athleticism, patience while breaking a hole, and incredible hurdling ability over Ravens safety Ed Reed this past weekend, maybe there is no one in the league more deserving of accolades at this point. Manning seems to trust him to push the chains, and Moreno has fit in nicely in Mike McCoy’s play calling. So where does that leave the Broncos if and when McGahee is able to return?
Hopefully in a better situation to win a Super Bowl, as the Broncos will have a viable two-back set that can balance the rhythm with Manning and become a stout opponent for teams to be concerned with even more than they are at this time. For now, though, as long as Moreno keeps hurdling his obstacles, the Denver Broncos can remain a complete team.
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