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Broncos Running Backs Know The Importance Of Protecting Manning

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Broncos running from left to right: Lance Ball, Ronnie Hillman, Knowshon Moreno (credit: CBS)

Broncos running from left to right: Lance Ball, Ronnie Hillman, Knowshon Moreno (credit: CBS)

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – John Elway wasn’t a championship quarterback until Terrell Davis came along. Every great quarterback needs a great running game, and the Broncos are no different this year.

The assumption is, with Peyton Manning behind the wheel the Broncos will throw, throw, and throw until his arm falls off. But look at what he did in Indianapolis. They ran the ball in Indy. Remember Edgerrin James and Joseph Addai?

Manning knows the importance of a good running game. It’s why he spends so much time at practice working on handoffs. It’s why Willis McGahee feels young again.

“I’m only 30, man, come on,” McGahee laughed.

McGahee ran for over 1,000 yards last year, and that was against defenses that stacked the line of scrimmage. Imagine what he can do when they don’t know what’s coming.

“I’m excited. I look at it as just putting more years on my ability in the NFL. I can’t take all that pounding anymore (and) with Peyton out there, just being him he’s going to take a lot of pressure off of the run game,” McGahee said.

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Every team wants a home run hitter. It’s a big reason why the Broncos drafted Ronnie Hillman. But when playing with a guy like Manning, running backs not only are there to run, they’re also there to protect.

“The protection is what was really messing me up in the beginning, but now we haven’t really put too many more protections in, so it’s getting a lot easier for that part,” Hillman said. “That’s a lot of pressure.”

The pressure is on Knowshon Moreno this season. He was starting to run with confidence last season until a knee injury in Kansas City ended his season.

“He’s working hard with Greek (trainer Steve Antonopoulos) every day to get back, and that’s the No. 1 thing he’s got to do is get his strength and get everything,” offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said. “He’s been in the classroom, he’s in every meeting, he’s working extremely hard, and with those injuries it just takes time.”

“I think I just need to get back out there. Everyone is working for a job, everyone is battling, everyone is competing,” Moreno said. “So I just need to come out here, get back out there first, and work from there.”

The job has a lot of candidates. Lance Ball is a reliable backup and Jeremiah Johnson is still out there. And don’t forget Mario Fannin. Before his injury last preseason Fannin impressed a lot of people.

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