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C.J. Anderson, Montee Ball preparing to make strong impressions for starting job

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — **As the Broncos started their first day of camp with shells on—one step closer to full pads—the running backs were naturally excited to get back to the natural physicality of the position and the adrenaline that comes with it.

C.J. Anderson was so excited about it that he said on his first run he missed a cut on purpose solely to be physical, and when they're in full gear tomorrow, they'll get even more intense.

Day 3 of training camp was highlighted by Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas running routes with two kids and a visit from Mayor Hancock. (All photos by Eric Lars Bakke)

"Tomorrow we'll be full pads and it'll just ramp up," Anderson said. "We're starting to get to play real football, which is great."

The competition in the backfield will be one to watch even after Anderson's stunning late-season burst that led to a Pro Bowl selection. Montee Ball, who was nagged by injuries last year, is healthy and raring to give Anderson a fight for that starting spot, and Ronnie Hillman, Juwan Thompson, Kapri Bibbs and Jeremy Stewart are all hungry to make a strong impression to insert their names into that conversation, too.

"We're just all competing together. I think we're all [looking] over our shoulder," Anderson said. "It starts up top with [Running Backs] Coach [Eric] Studesville. He just wants to be the best. We're just trying to be the best that we can be out there no matter who lines up."

Anderson of course knows that Ball isn't going to just let him have the No. 1 spot. The two are friends and Anderson said they each have helped one another during camp.

Ball has focused on keeping quick feet as he prepares for the season and for the fight ahead of him.

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"[I'm working on] bouncing off of contact and being able to restart my feet again," Ball said. "That's really what I worked on in the offseason and am continuing to work on right now."

Anderson said they're all pretty comfortable with the offense at this point with the new blocking scheme and running behind a fullback, and how each of those affect their running style.

"[With a] fullback, [it] is a little more patient," Anderson said. "With [TE/FB] Joe Don [Duncan] and [TE/FB] James [Casey], no matter who's behind there, you have to see what they see and they have to see what you see. You have to communicate to them. It can get difficult at times, but it has been easier through this process. It's easier than what we all thought it was going to come to be. Being by yourself, you get that initial flow from the linebackers where you can make that cutback because you can pick up the pace in how you want to move it compared to a fullback because you're faster by yourself."

But as far as making cuts goes, Anderson said "You could probably put a blindfold on to make the right cut."

One of the other major questions involved with the running back position battle is how snaps might be split up, but both backs said they're confident all that will shake out for the best.

"I'm just going to do whatever's called," Anderson said. "If it's 10 my day, 20 Montee day, that's fine. If it's 30 Ronnie day, five my day, that's fine. At the end of the day, we're all about winning."

The Broncos returned to the field in shells for the third training camp practice.

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