Broncos Moreno poised for a breakout
The Denver Post,Staff
Since Bobby Turner was hired by the Broncos in 1995, he’s seen running backs come, seen them go.
Seen them come into the huddle, then go for touchdowns. Seen a league-leading 14 running backs compile a league-leading 95 100-yard rushing games over that span.
When Turner turned on the video of a University of Georgia running back earlier this year, he saw “a person that was a complete package, and that’s what we’re always looking for,” he said.
He saw Knowshon Moreno.
“He could do everything,” Turner said. “He can do pass protection, he can block, he can catch, and obviously to be a running back you’ve got to be able to run the ball.”
Still, it’s safe to say Moreno has been rudely introduced to life in an NFL backfield. First there was the contract impasse that kept Moreno out of training camp’s early going. Then there were all of three carries in the preseason before a sprained knee put him on the sideline.
Then there was Sunday, when, in his debut, he finished with only 19 yards on eight carries in the season opener at Cincinnati before leaving the game because he took a blow to the side of the helmet as he was forced out of bounds.
“Not that good, not that good at all,” Moreno said when asked to critique his first game. “I missed a lot of things. Maybe I was trying to go too fast, trying to do too much. But I’m glad to get that first one under my belt, and we can move on from here. That’s how I’m approaching it.”
Moreno said he feels “100 percent” this week and that he doesn’t believe he ran tentatively against the Bengals because of his preseason knee injury. Moreno missed three preseason games with a sprained medial collateral ligament.
He thinks, if anything, he was impatient and more than a little surprised at how much quicker the game is played in the NFL.
“I just missed a lot of reads, missed a lot of reads,” Moreno said. “Making the wrong one, making it go outside instead of inside, things like that. It was my first game back, and I had to shake some of the cobwebs out. I wasn’t used to that speed. I guess that counts for being a rookie.”
Moreno appeared on third down plenty, a rare spot for a rookie running back playing for Turner. That’s because the back in the formation on third down not only has to be functional as a receiver, but be willing and able to block pass rushers who may break free. Scouts consistently listed that as Moreno’s strength coming into the draft.
Broncos coach Josh McDan- iels attributed Moreno’s difficult day on the Cincinnati riverfront to a more basic issue.
“All the rookies . . . need to understand, this is not college football, and they make a mistake now, they don’t get away with it,” McDaniels said. “Each one of them saw, whether they made one mistake in the game or five, you make an error, the guys on the other side of the ball are too good. They exploit it, they see it, find it and they make it go for their side. Knowshon is in that group.”
This week the Broncos face a Browns run defense that joined a long list of teams who have surrendered a big day to Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson finished with 180 yards rushing last week, but Minnesota had to be patient and keep pounding away to do it.
Peterson, the gold standard for backs in the league, had 25 yards rushing at halftime against Cleveland.
“I’m going to take it as I get it,” Moreno said. “When I’m in, I’m going to try to make the best of those plays, and when I’m not, I’m going to be cheering for who’s out there.
“I think I’m at full speed, I’m good.”
Jeff Legwold: 303-954-2359 or email@example.com