Denver Broncos general manager John Elway rewarded Anderson with a four-year, $18 million contract this offseason after the running back’s 90-yard performance in the Super Bowl, which he sealed with a late touchdown against Carolina.
Then, Elway grabbed Booker in the fourth round of the NFL draft after the Utah running back slipped down the board because of meniscus surgeries.
Booker, whom the Broncos would have considered drafting in the first round had they not moved up to select quarterback Paxton Lynch, declared recently that he’s out to take somebody’s job, not carry anyone’s pads.
That’s pretty bold for a rookie, but the boast doesn’t bother the Broncos.
“I would hope they’re all here that way,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “They have confidence in what they’re doing. We got some new guys that can help our team and help us quick. But like I told them after practice, they got to prove to the team they can help them. I love confidence, but you got to back up confidence with work.”
As in, picking up the blitz and the first downs.
Anderson insists he’s not bothered by Booker’s braggadocio.
“If he comes to work, he’ll get the respect,” Anderson said. “Now, if he doesn’t come to work, then he’ll hear from the veterans. But we trust ‘Book.’ I trust ‘Book.’ I think he’ll come to work. He didn’t make the comment for no reason.”
The Broncos bolstered their backfield this offseason with the additions of Booker and fullback Andy Janovich, a sixth-rounder from Nebraska. They also signed free agent Cyrus Gray, who played for Kansas City last season.
Holdover Juwan Thompson is also working at fullback and Ronnie Hillman, who led the team in rushing last year, signed a one-year deal.
But the running back who turned heads when the Broncos began their organized team activities this week was Kapri Bibbs, who spent most of the last two seasons on Denver’s practice squad.
“Kapri is a different player than the one I had last year – and we told him he needed to be,” Kubiak said. “So, he’s answered that challenge.”
All of this should make for a heated training camp competition in the Broncos’ backfield.
“It’s going to be fun,” Anderson said. “It’s going to be a fun backfield. It’s always fun to have competition.”
That’s one reason he wasn’t bothered by Booker’s comments.
“I mean, what do you want him to say? Y’all want him to say, ‘Hey man, I’m going to sit behind C.J. and Ronnie. I’m here to be a backup?'” Anderson asked. “Nah, I was fine with it. It didn’t bother me at all. That’s the competitive spirit.”
Anderson had that same approach when he cracked the roster in 2013. A year later, he became just the fifth undrafted rookie to make a Pro Bowl, prompting former Broncos great Terrell Davis to compare him to a bowling ball.
What an appropriate analogy given that Anderson is a bowling aficionado. He made his PBA debut last weekend in Oklahoma City and is signed up for another event in Jonesboro, Arkansas, next month.
Anderson averaged a modest 173.8 for his first eight games in a PBA Regional tournament with a high game of 268. He tied for 64th out of 71 bowlers.
Earlier, Anderson participated in the 2016 Chris Paul PBA Celebrity Invitational, where his unorthodox “wrong-foot” delivery was first noticed. Unlike most right-handed bowlers who finish their approach by sliding on their left foot, Anderson slides on his right foot.
Anderson, who’s been bowling for a decade but only seriously for the last four years, said he has one perfect game on his resume.
“Those are not easy,” he said. “Twelve perfect shots. It’s like a good, 12-play drive, everything just going your way.”
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Given his dual sports aptitude, Anderson has found himself autographing special bowling balls that feature the Super Bowl 50 logo which bowling alleys are using as enticements to get people to sign up for summer leagues.
“Why not? Use us. Use us for everything,” Anderson said. “Fans are still happy about Super Bowl 50. We’re trying to move to Super Bowl 51.”
Notes: DE Derek Wolfe said Wednesday that he didn’t regret signing his four-year, $36.7 million contract with Denver in December after seeing teammate Malik Jackson command $90 million over six years from Jacksonville in free agency: ” I did what I felt was right. I’m happy for Malik. He deserves it. I’m where I wanted to be. You can’t put a price on happiness.”
– By ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Sports Writer
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