ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (The Sports Xchange) – Right knee surgery will put Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson on the shelf indefinitely.
The Broncos said earlier in the day Thursday that Anderson had avoided damage to the ACL in his right knee, but an arthroscopic procedure determined damage to the meniscus. The Broncos did not announce the severity of the damage; a complete meniscus tear would end Anderson’s season.
Anderson missed Wednesday’s practice when he went to seek a second opinion on the knee, and if he is out for an extended period, it would be up to rookie Devontae Booker and reserve Kapri Bibbs to pick up the slack.
Booker has already begun proving his pro worthiness as a runner; he has 129 yards in the last two games and has averaged 5.8 yards per carry in that span. His sprints on draw plays against the Chargers in Week 6 helped get the Broncos snap out of a series of punts, starting a comeback that ultimately fell short.
But where Anderson could be most missed is in pass protection, and with pass rushers like San Diego’s Joey Bosa and Oakland’s Khalil Mack looming in the next two weeks, the Broncos could miss Anderson’s ability to diagnose blitzes and stunts if he can’t play.
“C.J. does a great job in protections; pass, pro, all of that stuff,” quarterback Trevor Siemian said. “Between him, Matt (Paradis) and me, we try to be on the same page as best as we can.”
Anderson’s knee issue could be a setback at a time when the Broncos need their offense to find balance. Against the Texans on Monday, Denver ran for a season-high 190 yards, and the work of Anderson and Booker set the play-action game up for Siemian, and he responded with a 31-yard deep strike to Emmanuel Sanders up the left sideline to set up a Booker 1-yard run that put the Texans down 21-9; ultimately that sequence put the game out of the Texans’ reach.
The Broncos will need the play-action game Sunday against the Chargers, particularly if it can help keep Bosa out of their backfield. Bosa has four sacks in three games, and although he didn’t sack Siemian, he did hit him twice, and with Siemian still coming off the left shoulder injury he suffered against Tampa Bay, the Broncos need to minimize his exposure to hits from Bosa and San Diego’s front seven.
Anderson’s injury also comes just at the point in the season where he has typically caught fire.
In 2014, he didn’t break into the regular rotation until November, and then went on a tear that propelled him to the Pro Bowl, A year later, he didn’t record a 100-yard game until Nov. 1, then improved down the stretch as he split time with Ronnie Hillman until he was the primary ball carrier in Super Bowl 50.
His 107-yard effort Monday night marked his first 100-yard game as a pro prior to November. Now the next one might have to wait.