By ZACK KELBERMAN
(247SPORTS) – Before he (possibly) takes home the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award, Phillip Lindsay will add a quirky honor to his budding resume.
Assuming he continues on his pace, Lindsay will break the Denver Broncos’ single-season rushing record for an undrafted rookie — a title currently held by Selvin Young.
Lindsay has taken 110 carries for 591 yards, which puts him third on the UDFA rushing list, behind Mike Bell’s 677-yard season in 2006 and Young’s 729 in 2007. He tops all first-year NFL backs in yards and ranks eighth overall among all players.
With seven weeks remaining this season, it’s certainly possible Lindsay cracks the 1,000-yard threshold, even as Royce Freeman returns from an ankle injury. Barring injury, he’ll shatter Young’s mark before finishing as a finalist for, if not winner of, OROY.
Lindsay, having begun the season as the Broncos’ strict third-down RB, took 35 totes for 155 rushing yards over the past two games, adding five receptions for 41 yards as a Swiss-army knife. This, after becoming the third UDFA in NFL history to post 100 scrimmage yards in debut (Week 1), and collect the most rushing yards by a rookie in their first start in team history (Week 8).
The former Colorado stud is who Denver thought he was: durable, dependable, and dynamic.
“It’s been two months and he’s been healthy,” head coach Vance Joseph said Monday. “He’s a shifty runner, so he has not taken direct contact—except for [Texans S] Kareem Jackson last week in the flat (laughs). That was his first big hit he’s taken. He’s a durable guy. He’s got great flexibility, doesn’t take direct contact, he runs behind his pads and he’s a really good inside runner. It’s been two months. It’s not a fluke. It is what it is, he’s a pretty good football player.”
Freeman is expected to cut into Lindsay’s workload Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, as the Broncos re-deploy its three-man backfield, also featuring Devontae Booker. Freeman should get some early-down touches, though he’s aware of the hot-hand approach.
“[RB] Phillip [Lindsay] did a great job. I don’t know anything about that,” he said Wednesday of his projected role. “My job is to do whatever they ask me to do. Go out there and do it to the best of my abilities.”
The otherwise stout Chargers defense has struggled against the run in 2018; they’ve surrendered 112.6 yards per game, susceptible without star defensive end Joey Bosa. Denver boasts the ninth-best ground attack, averaging 126.7 yards per game. Lindsay and Freeman grade out as the league’s RB12 and RB23, respectively, according to Pro Football Focus.