Denver Broncos: 5 Players We’ll be Watching in Baltimore

Denver Broncos (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /

Royce Freeman needs to establish himself as the featured back.

Freeman has 99 yards on the season and a touchdown.  His 4.7 yards per carry would tie him for 16th on the all-time list with names that include Adrian Peterson and OJ Simpson.

Freeman is not running poorly but watching him one can’t help but think there is more there.

The offensive line is playing better than last season.  Freeman’s running back mate Phillip Lindsay has made quite the splash in the early going but Freeman is the featured back.

It looks like Royce has had some issues with decisive running, he looks uncertain running between the tackles.  We’d expect that a 6′, 225lb guy would be a move-the-pile type runner in the vein of a Le’Veon Bell.  What we wouldn’t expect is that Freeman has the speed to get outside and gain yardage. That’s where we’ve seen the Oregon rookie shine.

Where we need to see him produce is in those first-down, between-the-tackles runs.  Freeman had a carry at the goal line against the Raiders that preceded Keenum’s 4th down touchdown run.  In it, Royce attempted to leap over the line.  He timed his leap poorly, it appeared that even if Raiders defenders hadn’t been there, he would have ended up short of the goal line.

Between that and pass-protection, the rookie back has some work to do .  It’s unfortunate that the Broncos feel like Devontae Booker needs to be in for pass protection.  It’s up to Royce to establish that he is the Broncos number one back and he is capable of carrying that load.

Right between the tackles.