Devontae Booker's NFL career could not have started any worse. He fumbled on his first carry vs. Carolina.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1719434-go-premium-sports-illustr... It was a blow to the rookie's psyche but he has proven over the last five weeks of the season that when he does get knocked down, he has the mental fortitude to bounce right back up.
With each passing game, we've seen Booker's confidence grow. Just six weeks into his rookie campaign, he seems to have already acclimated to the speed of the pro game.
In the Denver Broncos Week 6 loss to the San Diego Chargers, Booker was at his best when it mattered most — in the second half. C.J. Anderson received twice as many carries as Booker, but was unable to create many productive gains.
In fairness, Anderson did have several nice runs, including an amazing catch-and-run reception for a touchdown, called back because of an offensive line penalty.
Even though the Broncos only called 15 designed runs, Booker was able exploit a Chargers defense that was beginning to show cracks in the veneer in the second half. The rookie finished with five carries for 46 yards, averaging 9.2 yards per carry.
Anderson tallied just 37 yards on 10 carries, to go along with four receptions for 34 yards.
Booker ran with vision, burst and finished his runs with his typical calling-card violence, making defenders pay for making contact. And he's proven the NFL Draft scouts correct with his soft hands in the passing game.
Head coach Gary Kubiak did not travel to San Diego with the team, due to illness, but he's watched the film. Based on what he's seen, Kubiak believes Devontae Booker has earned a bigger slice of the pie.
“When he’s had some opportunities, he’s done some really good things,” Kubiak said. “As a young player, we’re trying to get him going as far as (pass) protection and those type of things. He’s starting to handle himself better. I think he deserves some more opportunities to touch the football.”
In the NFL, coaches go with the hot hand. Maybe Anderson has been held back by sub-par O-line play. Maybe he's banged up.
We can make excuses for Anderson, but the bottom line is that Booker has made more of his opportunities, with less touches. Kubiak is right to reward Booker for his play. The NFL is a production-based business, after all.
Seeing the rookie take away some of his carries, maybe even in the redzone, might be exactly what Anderson needs to spark himself back into the zone. In football, as in life, competition sparks excellence.
At this stage, I wouldn't be opposed to a 50-50 split. If the Broncos can get both Anderson and Booker rolling, their season aspirations will skyrocket.
Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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