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Mason's Mailbag: Expect the unexpected from Giants

Posted Oct 14, 2017

Other topics include the use of Isaiah McKenzie so far this season and where Devontae Booker fits with C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles flourishing at running back.

You can tweet questions to me with the hashtag #AskMase or use the submission form to your right (if you're viewing on a standard browser) or at the bottom of the page if you're on the mobile site.

Like Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy said Thursday, "There's only one football out there." He was speaking in regards to Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, since they were the subject of the question that spurred that response, but the general point applies to McKenzie, as well: There are a finite number of opportunities, and with an offense that has plenty of playmakers, it isn't always going to work out to get a specific player the football.

The Broncos are running the football well with C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles. As a result of their ground success and the fact that they've spent just 9.4 percent of their 240 game minutes playing from behind, they're passing the football on 51.7 percent of their snaps, the fourth-lowest percentage in the league. That, too, limits opportunities for McKenzie and others.

If and when McKenzie gets the ball, it will be in ways like the Broncos have already tried. In Buffalo; he had a 4-yard carry on an an end-around. Against the Raiders, Trevor Siemian looked in his direction twice: once in the left flat and later deep down the middle. Each of those gives him a chance to capitalize on his speed, whether it's via his route or after getting the football.

Both on the depth chart and in their use against the Raiders when Booker returned, Booker is the No. 3 running back behind Anderson and Charles. At this point, there's little reason to mess with an arrangement that is working well; Anderson and Charles are an effective one-two punch, evidenced by the fact that the Broncos are one of four teams that rank in the league's top 10 in rushing yards per game, average per carry, first-down rate and percentage of runs that gain at least 15 yards.

Booker's presence will likely be needed at some point; rarely will you see the top two running backs make it through an entire season without missing time because of injuries.

Immensely. Although Ray hasn't been able to play, because his injury was to his wrist, he was able to maintain his lower-body conditioning, so he could work out, run and maintain his stamina in that regard. The biggest question when he recovers will be how he handles contact on the wrist, but his stamina should not be an issue, especially with two weeks in practice to continue getting ramped up before his expected regular-season debut in Kansas City on Oct. 30.

No one around the Broncos wants to use the phrase "trap game," but the inevitable changes that will result from the absence of wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard and Dwayne Harris create an unstable element that will ensure the Broncos need to be sharp and on guard for the unexpected.

"I think it makes it more complicated because you're kind of unsure of what they're going to come out with," inside linebacker Brandon Marshall said. "I think we'll know in the first 15 plays what they want to do. I imagine them trying to create mismatches. They have a tight end [Evan Engram] that ran a 4.4; they're going to definitely try to get him the ball. They have a good receiving running back in Shane Vereen and they're going to try to get him the ball."

The key for the Broncos then becomes to focus on their tasks -- to stay disciplined in coverage and continue to attack at the snap as they have in the previous four weeks.

"I think the linebackers and the safeties just have to be on top of our game this week," Marshall said. "Obviously everybody does because they're going to try to establish a run because they have to run the ball. We just have to be on our game."

Three weeks ... Philadelphia ... hmmm ... see, I'm more of a cider connoisseur than a beer aficionado, so I'll have to study up. But like football, I take it one week at a time.

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The analysis, opinion and speculation in this story represents that of the author, gathered through research and reporting, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Denver Broncos organization.

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