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Published on 11/20/2012 at Tue Nov 20 07:00.
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(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The final six games of the 2012 season could be running back Knowshon Moreno‘s final opportunity to start in Denver, and he is not taking that fact for granted.

“It feels good to be back, but you hate to see a teammate go down with an injury,”  Moreno said on Monday.  ”That really hurts, but at the same time, we have a lot of capable guys in the backfield that can get the job done for this team also.”

Moreno has been inactive for the Broncos over the past eight games while starter Willis McGahee and rookie Ronnie Hillman have handled the bulk of the carries for Denver.  With McGahee out for possibly the rest of the regular season, Moreno will get the chance to start for the first time since Week 2 of the 2011 season.

“Next week, it’ll be more than likely Knowshon instead of Willis,” Coach John Fox said on Monday.  ”He’s looked, actually over the last couple of weeks, very good.”

“(Sitting out the past eight weeks has been) tough,” said Moreno.  ”You just want to go out there and help your team win.  I took the approach where I was helping my team win in practice, doing any type of special-teams or scout team work that I needed to do to help the team win. That’s the approach I was taking.”

“You just never know when your chance is going to be. When your chances do come, you’ve got to make the most of those and go about it the right way. I think that’s where I was.”

Moreno’s return comes at an ideal time during the season.  The Broncos have a match-up against the 1-9 Chiefs on decka team Moreno has done historically well against, rushing 84 times for 455 yards (5.4 yards per carry) and four scores in five games against Kansas City.

“I’m not even thinking about that. All I’m thinking about now is right now, and doing the things I have to do to get back on the field.”

Moreno’s most productive season was his rookie year, when he rushed for 947 yards and 7 touchdowns.  Since then, Moreno’s productivity has slipped and he has struggled to stay healthy.

With a new opportunity, a humbled, team-first attitude and a bulked-up body (he says he’s bumped up from 200 to 215 pounds), Moreno has a chance to become Denver’s main running back moving forward.  But he is willing to share the load.

“We have a great group of guys.  We lift each other up, and we feed off each other, and that’s the great thing about us.  We like to see all of us making plays, and when we do, we’re all cheering.  We have a great group, definitely, at the running back position.”

If Moreno can stay healthy and perform effectively, Denver’s offense will be able to stay balanced.  Otherwise, it will be “Next man up,” once again.

  • Big_Pete

    1 fumble, and Elway might trot onto the field to pull your jersey off and boot your ass off the team! You’re on notice Knowshon.

  • 350legend

    I have a good feeling Moreno’s gonna have aecond half breakout season!!

  • Jim_Jebow

    I have that same feeling every time Knowshon goes into the game, it rarely has awesome results though. Maybe this will be a new era for Knowshon

  • 350legend

    True, but rumor has it that hes been beasting in pratice, and having a good attiude with team mates.. Lets hope that good energy rubs off on the felid! Fingers crossed

  • Doom92

    Man Pete I am agonizing over this. I promise he will be no better than he ever has been. Man I hope I am soooo wrong but I’d put cash on it that I’m not… Its kind of like with DJ – We’ve heard all this before… and before that!!!

  • Bryan

    Oh c,mon. If he was doing that well then why was he inactive until now? A rookie (that hasn’t been doing much of anything) is holding a spot over Moreno. Best players play right?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonmark93 Jon Broncos Heath

    It could be that the team was thinking about moving up Moreno this week even before McGahee was injured. Regardless, Fox sure sounds confident that he’ll be able to perform.

  • TheTroglodyte

    Fox said it will be Moreno instead of Willis but unless I am misreading it, nowhere did he say Moreno is going to be the starter. It sounds like he is just taking the active spot. Has Moreno actually been declared the starter?

  • Big_Pete

    I completely agree. What do we know about Knowshon? We know he can catch swing passes/screens, and we know he can pick up a blitz. We also know that he fumbles more than McGahee and that he can’t seem to be patient enough to be an effective runner. He’s also injury prone and coming back from an ACL.

    Like you said, we know who he is. The book has been written. The only glimmer of hope I have is that he knows this is his last shot with this team and probably the NFL. He might have extra motivation to not only play for his career, but play for Manning on this team. Like TD said, he wanted to impress Elway. Well, let’s hope Moreno wants to impress Manning.

    And like I said, I think the first time he fumbles (which we all know he will), Elway himself might rip his jersey off and boot his ass off this team. He’ll probably have to find his own transportation back to Denver too! haha

    The good thing is that Manning has never had a strong running game, with the lone exception being their super bowl year, so he knows how to handle situations like this. I think that Ball will average somewhere in the 4ypc only because we are playing the chiefs. I think that anything we see out of our RBs this next game will be fools gold. I just wish we still had Omon… I loved him during the preseason.

  • Bryan

    And deactiving who? Thinking in hindsight like that, we would have been dressing 3 RB’s to only play offense. WM, Hillman, Moreno. We all know Ball stays active because of ST. I would be hard pressed to see Moreno play ST, and if the staff thought Moreno was a better option than Hillman, he’d be playing. McGahee’s injury is the only reason why Moreno is dressing this week.
    Now the tone around here lately has been, “it’s a good problem to have”, so I’m sticking with that. Moreno is a game tested RB that can produce, albeit not up to what was 1st round billing suggested. He’s be in during the practice sessions, meetings, etc etc, so it’s not like he’ll be going on the field clueless. Atleast, I hope not.

  • TheTroglodyte

    Not under John Fox. He’s arguably the most stubborn coach in football when it comes to personnel and conservative play. Once he likes or dislikes a player (and it doesn’t seem to take much for him to make up his mind either way) that player always continues to play no matter how bad they suck, or continues to ride the bench no matter how great they are doing.

    That being said, Fox drafted Hillman and clearly favors him. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t get the most work and the start.

  • Big_Pete

    I think Joh is saying that Fox might have deactivated Ball in favor of Moreno anyways. Ball and Moreno both pick up blitzes… It’s Hillman that struggles with that.

    But hey, it’s a moot point now as Willis is going to be deactivated, and more likely than not, Moreno will be active. I know I joke about starting a campaign to have DJ be our RB (although I personally think he’d be great), but I honestly think our best RB isn’t even here… it’s not Jeremiah Johnson, its Xavier Omon. We should for real start a campaign to bring him back. Hey, it worked last year with you-know-who, so maybe it can this time! haha

  • Big_Pete

    I agree with you about Fox being stubborn and playing/benching people he likes no matter what. I think it’s crazy and reckless, but that’s who he is. I think that his stubbornness will also be a detriment if we turn the reigns over to Hillman for the majority of the snaps. We all know that front office guys love their draft picks and will fight like hell to make them look good, but Hillman couldn’t pick up a blitz if it was me blitzing (although I’m in good shape, I’m not NFL or even good College player). With Manning back there, we’ll need to pick up the blitz, especially seeing the perception will now be to just pin your ears back and blitz Manning because of the perceived lack of a running game. Because of that, I think Ball/Moreno/hopefully Omon are our best bet, using Hillman in the same way we do now.

  • Big_Pete

    Fox won’t declare a starter until I’m sure the NFL tells him he has to on gameday. No way his conservative ass gives any opposition more information than they need. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gives people fake IDs and a dead president’s mask to wear on a plane when they come to try out for the team. lol

  • TheTroglodyte

    LOL!

  • Bryan

    Traditionally, Fox had been that way. He surely hasn’t acted that way since he’s been in Denver tho. He gave Tebow a shot when KO struggled. Yanked Mays for Brooking (although I’m sure his suspension didn’t help him much). I think the thing with Fox is, I’m going to give you your shot. You have to make the most of it. If you don’t then I’ll find someone who can. Let this be your warning that you may never see the field again. Tony Carter..prime example. But I agree on the idea that he doesn’t like Moreno. Whatever the reason is, it’s probably not going to change over the next 6-8 weeks.

  • Jim_Jebow

    Omon had one really good preseason game and looked ok in others. I think his hard nose running style is most like McGahee, but there are a lot of question marks about his blocking, receiving, and football smarts. I guess I would rather see Jerimiah Johnson brought onto the roster because I’m guessing he knows the playbook better than Omon, and he did ok when he played last year

  • TD30isMVP

    Moreno looked like he was running hard and making plays the last time he had some action. That said, his biggest problem is he is always getting hurt, the man can’t stay on the field. Not a big fan of his but he is the type of back that Manning can make a star.

  • http://twitter.com/wc_ben Benjamin DeRita

    ‘SAUSED’

  • TheTroglodyte

    Good response!

    I would say he was being crucified over Tebow not playing so there wasn’t much of a choice. I’m sure that was every bit as much of a business decision from the brass as a coaches decision.

    Also, Fox likes Brooking and brought him in, so that isn’t really the same. It’s not like Brooking was already here and he replaced him with Mays. Actually the exact opposite happened. He brought in Brooking to replace Mays and that’s what happened.

    You are probably right though, he probably has been a little better since arriving in Denver.

  • http://www.facebook.com/toxik.zine Toxik Zine

    He played quite well during preseason, lets hope he has that same agressive style of running with his job on the line (like in ps).

  • Doom92

    Thats funny as a bastard…LMAO!

  • Doom92

    Brooking wasn’t brought in to “replace” Mays, if that were the case Mays wouldn’t have ever gotten a new contract, Brookings replaced Mays because he is a better and more football savvy player.

    Fox dislikes Moreno because he sucks, period. Even if Fox is hard headed he is still an extremely intelligent coach, a very good one as well and he wants to win. In Carolina he WAY liked Williams over Stewart but eventually Stewart got the starts.

    I have to disagree with you guys on this one. I don’t think he benches guys he doesn’t like, Elway wouldn’t put up with that. I think he plays who he and the rest of the staff think are the best guys to help win. I see NO way that you can know, for sure, that he does this. Unless of course you are in the meetings and in the locker room ;-).

  • Doom92

    I think that Omon is kind of like Johnson in that if they liked him that much he’d be in there instead of them. 100′s of guys look awesome in preseason. In-fact I think Johnson looked WAY better than Ball in the preseason but Ball is in there and Johnson of course as we know, is a practice guy.

    I’m not sure how this is going to turn out, of course, but the lesser running game will hurt us for sure. In a different post Pete you said any running attack this week would be fool’s gold and I agree with that. But it could possibly go a long way in showing that we still have that, old time, ability of simply inserting a guy and marching on. Perception is for sure part of the battle.

    Whomever is in there we’ve got to hope against the odds that one of these guys steps up. Either way Knowshow will make a stake for himself, he’ll play (hopefully somewhere else) or be gone from the NFL as someone else mentioned.

  • Doom92

    I agree Jim…

  • Doom92

    I actually have all along liked your idea of putting Crim, I mean DJ, back there. If nothing else he is strong enough to hold onto the ball and would run with serious attitude…lol.

  • MeOMy

    For all the Lance Ball Fans… In their 4 year careers…

    Moreno fumbles once every 68 rushing plays
    Ball fumbles once every 58 rushing plays
    Moreno fumbles once every 39 passes (none since rookie year)
    Ball fumbles once every 15 passes
    Moreno 4.1 YPC career average
    Ball 4.2 YPC career average
    Moreno 77 receptions on 105 targets
    Ball 27 receptions on 50 targets
    Moreno longest run 36 yds
    Ball longest run 34 yds
    Moreno 13 rushing TDs and 6 receiving TDs
    Ball 1 rushing TDs and 2 receiving TDs

    In their time with Denver both McGahee and Moreno have rush 12 or more times in a game in 21 games. McGahee averaged more than 4.0 YPC in 13 of the 21 games. Moreno averaged more than 4.0 YPC in 15 of 21 games. In the one game Ball has gotten at least 12 carries he only average 3.2 YPC (30 attempts 9 yards longest). Moreno was averaging 13 YPC (4 attempts 3,24,3,22 yards) when he got injured that same game. My point is that when given a chance to get his rhythm going he can pick up the yards you need him too on the ground. In my experience of watching him, what he is not good at is getting those explosive long runs or the tough short yards. That is one of the main difference between Moreno and McGahee.

    I also think that most fans would agree that Moreno is our best blocking RB.

    It’s my belief that most people give Moreno crap because he gets injured a lot and was draft in the first round, while Ball was undrafted. As for this year, there is a very good reason why Moreno has been inactive. People not named Adrian Peterson don’t recover quickly from the injury Moreno had.

    So long as they use Ball for the short yards I think Denver will do just fine with Moreno as the starting tailback. Was he worth a first round draft pick? No… but he isn’t as bad of a running back as most fans make him out to be.

  • MeOMy

    Moreno was inactive because he was clearly still recovering from his ACL injury and it made more sense to give the rookie some experience.

  • areferee

    The tendency might be to consider playing the hapless Kansas City Chiefs a second “bye week”. Big mistake. The Chiefs, (and Brady Quinn), would like nothing better than to spoil the Broncos roll toward the Division Championship with a home upset victory over an over-confident team.

    No one knows better than Peyton Manning that you can’t overlook a weaker team in the NFL by assuming a victory. He and John Fox had better instill that message to the other 52 on the roster… especially Moreno, if he plays, that only a 100% effort will do.

    The Chiefs and Crennel are spoiling for a win. We’d better be ready to stop the run on defense and not lay the ball down on offense. We aren’t there yet, folks. This is Arrowhead Stadium, after all.

    This should be the year we dominate the West with a clean sweep. But we gotta bring a big broom… and do the work.

  • areferee

    Before Jon is forced to make an editorial reply, I just moved my remarks to the latest story where it is more germaine.

    There was no editing or deleting… but god knows they should!

  • Bryan

    Crucified is a putting it nicely, but I agree. The organization took a lot of flak, especially from the fans, prior to starting Tebow. Lots of pressure. I don’t really want to open a hornets nest with Tebow tho, so I’ll stop there.
    IMO, Brooking was signed only for depth. Mays was resigned because Irving didn’t show enough progression to take the starting Mike away from him. As things played out, Brooking was the best option. Thinking about it now, I may ever go as far as retracting my previous statement of it being a “John Fox” type of move, and replace it with a JDR recommendation to replace Mays with Brooking. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it! LOL.
    I’ll say one more thing about the LB’s while I’m on it. While DJ’s suspension did kind of suck, it’s really looking like a blessing in disguise. Had he not been suspended, it’s suspect that WW, Irving, and Trev would have gotten the reps they did.

  • Bryan

    I’m not even sure that type of conversation would even happen in meetings or the locker room. “I’m not playing X because I don’t like him.” It may be in their mind, but that’s where the tongue should meet the cheek.

  • MeOMy

    Fox didn’t play Moreno because he saw that Moreno had not fully recovered from his injury and it made more sense to give the rookie some playing time.

  • Doom92

    I think it made more sense to play someone that isn’t pretty much a bust. I appreciate your diplomatic thought process there, but I don’t think that is it.

  • Doom92

    :-D That is pretty much what I was trying to say to the Trogger and Pete. Who just so happen to be my favorite posters on here. See we can all disagree ;-)… Just don’t disagree with me very often lmao…