Through the first quarter of their 2017 schedule, the Denver Broncos have had the No. 3 ranked rushing attack in the National Football League. For the most part, they have done it without any real contributions from second-year running back Devontae Booker.
Behind veteran running backs C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles, the Broncos have averaged 143 rushing yards per game in 2017. Denver’s per game rushing yard average trails only the Kansas City Chiefs (156.2 yards per game) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (165.2 yards per game).
Anderson and Charles have proven to be near perfect compliments of one another. Anderson is the bruiser, who can wear opposing defenses down between the tackles. Charles is the explosive all-purpose back, who is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Bottom line, if they stay healthy, Anderson and Charles are one of the premier running back duos in the NFL.
Booker returned to the Broncos prior to their Week 4 game against the Oakland Raiders. He had previously been on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list with a wrist injury he suffered early in training camp.
Prior to the injury, Booker was slated to be Denver’s No. 2 running back (behind Anderson). He led the team in rushing in 2016 (612 yards and 4 touchdowns on 174 carries), and by all accounts he had a strong offseason. Nonetheless, the Broncos simply don’t have a role for the former Utah star in their offense in its current state.
While it’s difficult to take a guy’s job away because of injury, it would be foolish for the Broncos to mess with their current 1-2 punch of Anderson and Charles.
In a perfect world, the Broncos would have enough carries to split between Anderson, Charles and Booker. But that’s just not the case. Anderson needs at least 15-20 carries to be fully effective, and Charles’ game-breaking ability warrants at least 12-15 touches as well.
The Broncos will likely need Booker at some point this season, given the wear and tear running backs suffer throughout a 16-game season. But for now, the Broncos would be wise to stick to two-man rotation in their backfield.
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