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Running Backs Look to Add Balance to Offense

Posted Sep 11, 2013

The Broncos’ stable of running backs hopes to improve on their Week 1 outing.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – As well as the Broncos offense moved the ball in the team’s Week 1 win, 87.3 percent of the yardage total came via the passing game.

Quarterback Peyton Manning dropped back to pass 45 times and finished with 445 net yards for an average of 9.9 yards per pass play. The team ran the ball 23 times for 65 yards – an average of 2.8 yards per rushing play.

“Obviously, our goal every week is to be balanced,” Manning said. “Whether it’s the passing game or the running game, it’s about each phase of it. We want to be balanced. We want to be able to establish the run; that can make your play-action passing game better. It can open up some things in the drop-back passing game, but anytime you’re one dimensional—whether it’s offense or defense—it’s a disadvantage for you. Hopefully we can have more balance this week.”

The carries against Baltimore were split between Knowshon Moreno, who opened the game, Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman.

Moreno led the team with nine carries, gaining 28 yards for an average of 3.1 per carry. Ball carried eight times for 24 yards and Hillman picked up 15 yards on four carries, while also adding a pair of receptions for 27 yards.

Head Coach John Fox cautioned into reading too much into the first game of the season with 16 weeks to go.

“I don’t think our body of work is quite up to what it’s going to be yet, so that’s why we’re all out here (at practice),” Fox said. “It’s a work in progress. Like I said, we’re not looking in the rear view mirror. We’re looking out the front windshield. Each with these games takes on its own personality.”

With Manning’s success moving the ball in the air against the Ravens, Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase stayed with that approach to build a lead. Then, when it came time to drain the clock the Broncos returned to the ground game.

“Peyton obviously went on a roll last week and we didn’t really have to run the ball until the end,” Hillman said. “(Ball) did good. He closed the game out with the four minute and running the ball there towards the end.”

Although both Ball and Hillman noted that it was more difficult to establish a rhythm in the Broncos’ running back-by-committee approach, they each appreciated the big picture plan in place.

“At first, it was tough,” Ball said. “But now, understanding the situation, you’ve got to be able to adapt in this league. You’ve got to be able to adapt quickly. I think that’s what I’ve done. Whenever I get it and get it running, just like last week, I’m trying to do the most with the football and I plan on doing the same this week.”

“It’s harder to get into a rhythm,” Hillman echoed. “But at the end of the day, it kind of helps the running backs staying healthy for the remainder of the season, especially when you’re in an up-tempo offense like this.”

This week, the Broncos will try to establish their run game against a Giants defense that ranked 28th in the league with opposing teams gaining 4.6 yards per carry against them.

“For a running game, I’m not sure there are many secrets,” Manning said. “It comes down to good old fashioned solid blocking and running back through the holes. I think that’s really what it comes down to.”