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Next-Day Notebook: C.J. Anderson savors his 1,000-yard milestone

Posted Jan 1, 2018

It means all the more given the humble start he had as an undrafted free agent joining the Broncos in 2013.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- C.J. Anderson knew exactly how many yards he needed to reach the one goal he had yet to accomplish in his five seasons as a Bronco.

When he took the field early in the fourth quarter with the Broncos down 24-10, he was still 10 yards away from hitting the 1,000-yard mark. The Chiefs had stacked the box to stop him, knowing the Broncos would push to get Anderson to the milestone, and every yard was difficult in a thicket of a defenders on a frigid day.

But once the countdown was at 10, the end was in sight.

"When I looked up and saw 44 [yards], I said, 'I need one 10-yard run. I think I'm highly capable of that,'" Anderson said. "And we got it."

On back-to-back plays, Anderson got 7 and 10 yards. His season was done, his goal accomplished. The football is likely headed to his mother -- as opposed to his position coach, Eric Studesville, who has "had a bunch of 1,000-yard rushers" over the years and, as Anderson says, has no need for the ball.

It was the one item missing from Anderson's resume in five years with the Broncos. He's been a Pro Bowler. He's carried the team on his back through a run to a world championship, and his game-clinching touchdown in Super Bowl 50 gave him a permanent place in Broncos history, no matter what came after that.

But for Anderson, every accomplishment comes with the satisfaction of knowing that it all began with going unwanted by every team in the 2013 NFL Draft. He now sits alongside other Broncos standouts such as Chris Harris Jr., Rod Smith, Greg Kragen and Steve Watson, even all the way back to Ring of Famer Gene Mingo. They are the keepers of the undrafted flame in orange and blue.

"I think the average career for [running backs] is that we're supposed to retire by two and a half or three years, and I wasn't even supposed to be here," he said. =

"There were 32 teams and 22 running backs and 254 picks before me. It definitely feels good to be one of those undrafted guys that I've seen, from Marques Colston to Chris Harris [Jr.] to Wesley Woodyard. It feels good to be in that class."

It's not quite a class of his own. But it's a class of which Anderson is a worthy member.

DE'ANGELO HENDERSON CAPITALIZES ON HIS CHANCE

It took a while, but De'Angelo Henderson finally had another chance to show the explosiveness and energy that made him one of the most eye-catching players on the roster in training camp and the preseason when he turned a short pass from Paxton Lynch into a 29-yard touchdown that put the Broncos in front 10-7 in the second quarter.

Still, he downplayed his role on the score.

"Kudos to those guys [blocking], they made it look easy for me. They were blocking up front; Isaiah [McKenzie] got a block on a corner[back]. All I had to do was run straight."

It was a play that Henderson and the Broncos hope can be the harbinger of bigger things for the Coastal Carolina product who got lost in the shuffle as the other three backs ahead of him stayed healthy for the last 13 games of the regular season.

"I learned from some good guys this year, and hopefully it can translate," he said. "What I learned this year to next year, I’m pretty sure it will. What they laid down, the standard that they set for me going forward, it should be very exciting coming up."

Henderson finished the day with 44 yards from scrimmage, with all five of his carries coming in the fourth quarter after Anderson hit the 1,000-yard milestone.

"'Hop' [Henderson] worked hard. Myself, Jamaal [Charles] and [Devontae Booker] we just kept pushing him when he hit that rookie wall," Anderson said. "People forget that rookies have been grinding since January to get to this opportunity. So it's a long rookie season.

"He had three vets in the room who all went through it. We just stayed on him, and he finally got his opportunity and he made some plays."

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