Denver Broncos running back, Knowshon Moreno was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in last week’s win over the Baltimore Ravens. Moreno has had a checkered career to say the least but he is finally living up to the potential that made him a first-round pick. We’ve all heard the jokes and probably made some of our own about Moreno, me included, but now he is a vital member of the Broncos. So who is Knowshon Moreno and why did it take him so long to get to this point?
Go back to draft day 2009; Moreno was taken be former Broncos head coach, Josh McDaniels with the 12th overall pick. That’s where the problems began; Moreno was a talented running back in college but he never should have been selected that high. He heard the criticism that he was not worthy of that pick, and he tried too hard to be a star right away. The harder he tried, the worse he played and that led to even more criticism. Combine that with the fact that McDaniels had no idea how to coach the running game and Moreno never had a shot in his first two seasons.
Then there were some off the field issues that added fuel to the fire for the critics, and Moreno was a lost soul. Finally in 2011; Moreno was starting to play well and was just starting to figure out the NFL when he tore his ACL. It was a game versus the Kansas City Chiefs when Moreno hurt his knee and ironically he was having his best game as a pro. Eight months of rehab followed and just when it looked like he had made it back; another low point was at hand. Following a costly fumble in the second game of this season versus the Atlanta Falcons; Moreno was benched and made inactive for the next eight weeks.
A lot of players would have complained, sulked or just plain quit at the point but Moreno actually matured and got better. He worked hard in every practice, was attentive in every meeting and displayed an unbelievably upbeat attitude. After Willis McGahee got hurt; Moreno got his chance, probably his last chance. The doubters and critics were out in force but this time it would be those critics who were wrong. Moreno has been great since taking over as the starter and he gets better every week.
The tentative running back who danced around in the backfield is gone; replaced by a decisive runner who sees the hole and hits it. Moreno no longer can be tackled by one guy, often dragging two and three tacklers with him. Last week when the Ravens knew the Broncos were going to run in the fourth quarter, it didn’t matter. Moreno pounded out four yards, five yards, nine yards and so on. He still capable of making that big play but the most impressive thing about Moreno now is he is not looking for it. He’s running where the play is called and getting every possible inch out of every carry.
It’s taken a few years but the Broncos are finally getting the back that McDaniels once drafted too high. The injury to McGahee could have been a difficult blow for the Broncos to overcome, but overcoming obstacles is nothing new to Moreno. He’s been doing is whole professional career and now he is a key contributor to the hottest team in football.
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