By Chad Jensen (247SPORTS) – The Denver Broncos kicked off organized team activities on Tuesday morning, and right off the bat, we received a juicy revelation as it relates to the running back competition.
Despite an early report that he might be held back from participating, De’Angelo Henderson took the first carry with the starting offense according to Cecil Lammey & Mike Pritchard of 104.3 the FAN in Denver.
“Obviously its his second year,” Head Coach Vance Joseph said after practice. “He had a rough week, this past week. But he’s back. He’s healthy. He’s on the field. But that’s the plan. We’ve got four or five young backs, so its an opportunity for everyone to show what they can do.”
Coach Joseph is referring to the traumatic vehicle collision Henderson was involved in less than two weeks ago, in which a driver fleeing police collided with his vehicle. Fortunately, Henderson escaped relatively unscathed.
Henderson flashed big time in preseason action as a rookie, but due to the log-jam ahead of him on the depth chart, was mostly a healthy scratch for the 2017 season. His lack of playing time was a disappointment, as Denver struggled to get anything going offensively all year long.
The Broncos could have used some of Hop’s explosiveness on offense. We finally saw his play-making ability come out in the wash in Week 17, when he took a short screen pass from Paxton Lynch29 yards to the house.
Henderson is obviously viewed favorably by Coach Joseph if he was given the first rep of OTAs, over the incumbent Devontae Booker and rookie third-rounder Royce Freeman. If Henderson faces any obstacle as a pro, its his size.
However, Henderson has the right attitude to succeed and of all of Denver’s 2017 Draft class, he’s the most serious minded. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hop is the most well-versed running back when it comes to the playbook heading into OTAs.
That could be one of the reasons he’s receiving early opportunities with the first-team. Heading into OTAs, it felt like we were going to see Booker and Freeman pitted against each other primarily for the starting job.
But we can’t discount De’Angelo Henderson. If he can prove that his ball security issues are in the rear-view and that he can be counted on to pass protect on third-down blitzes, he could very well be the darkhorse candidate to win the starting job.
If I had to call it right now — keep in mind there’s a ton of football left to be played — I would hazard that Denver will enter the 2018 regular season with a running back by committee approach. However the team approaches it, the good news is that Denver has an immense load of young talent in the running back stable, which can only help quarterback Case Keenum in his effort to resurrect the Broncos offense from the league doldrums.