Broncos Running Back Camaraderie Alive & Well

C.J. Anderson and Montee Ball might be competing for reps on the field, but they're not letting that get between their friendship off of it.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.—Sunday, following day three of Denver Broncos training camp, tailbacks C.J. Anderson and Montee Ball shared thoughts on what they can do to help the Broncos obtain offensive balance.

Last season, Anderson and Ball combined for 1,021 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on the ground—numbers that the Broncos brass hope they can improve upon to alleviate the burden that has been upon quarterback Peyton Manning to spark the offense.

Anderson, who had the glut of the production between the two in 2014 (849 of the yards and eight of the touchdowns), was asked about his assessment of training camp through three days.

“Tomorrow will be full pads and it will just ramp up,” Anderson said. “We're starting to get to play real football, which is great. It was not a great day today, but we'll get better as an offense and keep going.”

Head coach Gary Kubiak and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison subscribe to the zone-blocking methodology, a departure from what John Fox’s Broncos ran in 2014. When asked about his comfort in the offense, Anderson inferred things are going well.

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“I'm super comfortable,” Anderson said. “We're going to do what we do best, whether that's running the ball or putting the ball in the air. [We] just continue to keep repping, keep repping, keep repping and keep repping because of muscle memory. You could probably put a blindfold on to make the right cut.”

Anderson stated he is also close with Ball and iterated that there is no tension in their relationship on or off the field.

“Outside of this facility, we are always hanging out and kicking it,” Anderson said. “I'm not going to tell you what we're doing, but we're hanging out and kicking it—a little bowling, a little video games and chatting here and there.”

One of the new wrinkles in the Broncos offense, though, will be the addition of a fullback, which could be undrafted rookie tight end/fullback Joe Don Duncan out of Dixie State, or free agent acquisition James Casey.

“Fullback is a little more patient,” Anderson said. “With Joe Don [Duncan] and James [Casey], no matter who's behind there, you have to see what they see and they have to see what you see. You have to communicate it to them. It can get difficult at times, but it has been easier through this process. It's easier than what we all thought it was going to come to be.”

Anderson further elaborated on the presence of Duncan and Casey and had high praise for them.

“They're nasty,” he said. “We got the pads on—I mean James has been in the league for a while, so you know he can do it. But Joe Don put the pads on today and we were all waiting to see him.”

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Anderson also talked about whether he deems splitting snaps to be a positive for resting his body, saying, “I''m 24 years old so I can run all day. That's how I look at it. The younger I am, the more punishment you can endure—that's what they say. I've never really had the injury problems. I've always been a durable guy, so it'll be fun. We'll see.”

Anderson closed his statements by talking about how much of an adjustment he has made for the new offense and speaking highly of Manning.

“It's a lot,” he said. “At the end of the day, they're expecting a bunch out of us in the backfield to what they call, 'Take pressure off Peyton [Manning].' I don't think you take any pressure off Peyton because when you've got five MVP's and you've been the man all your life, you walk on the field and they're expecting plays to come out. If you can make plays and just help your team win, that's all that matters.”

When it was Ball’s turn to speak, he reciprocated Anderson's feelings for him, saying, “Off the field, we're really good friends. [There is] no bad blood between us. It's great. We love competing with each other.”

Ball also discussed what he's been working on during training camp, revealing that he has worked on “Quick feet, bouncing off of contact, being able to restart my feet again”.

He gave a propitious report on his conditioning level but ensured he still has work to do on that front.

"I'm still getting a little tired because I was training out in [Los Angeles]. Coming back here, running for a couple of weeks, you're still going to get a little tired at first because of the altitude, but I feel great.”

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Ball has rave reviews for Kubiak's new offense. “I love it,” he said. “It's running back friendly for sure, but we're still going to put the ball in the air with [WR Demaryius Thomas], D.T. [QB] Peyton [Manning] is obvious going to put it in the air with [WR] Emmanuel [Sanders]. So we're going to throw the football, as well.”

At this stage, Ball doesn't know how many reps he will split with other running backs on the roster, believing that competition shall rule the day.

“They (the coaches) don't want to do that because they want us to compete,” he said. “[RB] C.J. [Anderson] is going to start off, but I'm going to be right there. It's a two-back system, so you need two running backs for this.”

It’s a good sign that Ball (he averaged only 3.1 yards per carry and scored one touchdown in 2014) believes Kubiak's offense can provide a resurgence for him. He showed great promise in his rookie season of 2013, (559 yards, four TDs, 4.7 YPC) and Kubiak and Dennison's scheme may be just what he needs to emerge as a phoenix.

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Brad James is an analyst for You can find him on Twitter @BroncosItaly.

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