Broncos' running game improves

In the last three weeks the Denver Broncos' running game has had a resurgance, and fullback Spencer Larsen deserves at least some credit.

Larsen, a natural linebacker, started at fullback three games ago against Washington. The Broncos' running game, which had been averaging 111 rushing yards per game, has averaged 124.3 the past three games.

Denver doesn't often use a fullback -- the team doesn't list one on its official depth chart -- but Broncos coach Josh McDaniels has been impressed with what Larsen has offered when he has played.

"He did a great job lead blocking for us last week," McDaniels said. "Again, plays a big role for us on the goal line, plays a big role for us in short-yardage situations and has really become a dependable lead blocker for our team. That's a critical thing. If you really want to try to run the ball better as the weather gets worse, you need that player to be a dependable guy and know who to block."

There have been other factors in the improvement, such as Russ Hochstein's play in his three starts at left guard and Knowshon Moreno's maturation. But Larsen has played a role. Larsen didn't play fullback at all in college, but last year Mike Shanahan thought Larsen could play there. Larsen played there on occasion, and McDaniels kept him doing double duty when he took over as head coach.

Larsen's physical style makes a good fit for the position.

"Just my willingness to go and do whatever it is," Larsen said. "As a fullback that's what you need."

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--S Brian Dawkins missed his second straight practice on Thursday because of an ankle injury. Dawkins has played before without much practice during the week.

--WR Eddie Royal practiced in full all week and will play on Sunday. He was knocked out of last Thursday's game against the Giants with a thigh injury, but that injury won't cost him any more time.

--LB Wesley Woodyard got through his second straight practice on Thursday with full participation. Woodyard missed Tuesday with a neck injury but should be able to play. He plays in nickel situations.

--OT Ryan Harris had no setbacks to his toe injury this week in practice. He should return to the lineup after missing four straight starts.

--RB LaMont Jordan has practiced this week after missing two games with a back injury. Jordan didn't have a huge role before the injury but has generally been used as the third tailback ahead of Peyton Hillis.



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