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Gray Matter Mailbag: Starting RB Spot

Posted Jul 5, 2013

This week's Gray Matter mailbag features questions on the competition for the starting running back position.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Happy Fourth of July weekend, everyone. In honor of the fact that it's a holiday, and the fact that it falls on the 4th, let's go with four questions in this week's mailbag.

Then we can all get back to eating leftover hamburgers and hotdogs this afternoon.

As we've talked about throughout OTAs and minicamp, Thomas has been making a big impression in his first full healthy offseason. Everyone from Peyton Manning to Head Coach John Fox to Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase has been complimentary of the young tight end, who saw an uptick in repetitions when Joel Dreessen was temporarily sidelined due to a knee scope. He's got Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme ahead of him at tight end, not to mention the big three receivers -- Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker -- battling for receptions. So it's tough to figure what his role on the offense might be, especially before training camp even starts. But I think the club would agree with you that the former college basketball player has enormous upside, and health is the key.

The team hasn't forgotten the professional way Moreno handled his situation last season, when he was inactive for parts of the season before taking over for an injured Willis McGahee and going on to notch a pair of 100-yard games down the stretch. Coach Fox mentioned Moreno was one of the running backs the team has confidence in after McGahee was released. He spent a chunk of OTAs still working back onto the field from his knee injury, but he gained more and more reps as the offseason workouts went on, and he'll be in the mix as the team looks for its starting running back. Of course the club's two recent draft picks at the position -- Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball -- will have something to say about that competition as well.

Yes. That race seems to be relatively wide open after McGahee's release. The rookie will have every chance to take over that role at some point this season. Of course it could end up being a running-back-by-committee situation. Fox's Carolina teams seemingly always had two big-time backs that could rotate every other series or so -- Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster, then Foster and DeAngelo Williams, then Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Could it be the same situation with Ball and Hillman? Could Moreno factor in? Something to keep an eye on as camp progresses. But to answer your question, yes, Ball will get to battle for the starting spot.

No change -- he's still hoping to be ready for training camp. The last time he talked to the media, he said he "feel(s) good about everything," and he was already able to run and work on agility drills before even coming out to Denver. Late in offseason practices, we saw him going through a few individual drills with his teammates for the first time, so it would appear that he's progressing. He said he wants to be "full-go" by the start of camp, but after missing so much time due to injury, he might be a little bit "limited" at first as he's eased back into the action.

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