In the past two games, Knowshon Moreno showcased his versatility in two opposite scenarios.
Against the Kansas City Chiefs, the second-year running back put forth the first 100-yard rushing game of his career. He handled 22 carries for 106 yards and played a crucial role in grinding down the clock to keep the Chiefs off the field in a blowout victory for his team.
Earlier this week on Monday Night Football, Moreno nabbed a career-high seven receptions and tallied more than 100 all-purpose yards for the third time this season. He acted as a safety valve on underneath routes for Kyle Orton as the quarterback tried to pass the Broncos back into contention in the lopsided loss to the Chargers.
In both contests Moreno scored a touchdown, averaged at least 4.5 yards-per-carry and compiled at least 50 receiving yards.
“He is starting to really take on the role that we envisioned for him to take on in the spring,” Head Coach Josh McDaniels said.
Moreno displayed soft hands during the early days of August, but a leg injury derailed his progress and caused him to miss most of training camp.
Another injury kept him from playing in three games in the regular season, but now Moreno said he feels like he’s finally hit his stride.
His coach has noticed, too.
“He is just getting better each week,” McDaniels said. “He has great energy and he is practicing at a really high level and that carries over into the games.”
Staying healthy enough to attack practices with gameday intensity allows Moreno to set a positive pace and accelerate his learning curve.
The 23-year-old playmaker has observed his own strides a year removed from his rookie campaign.
“Last year a lot of things were just moving a lot faster,” Moreno said. “This year it’s kind of slowing down. I’ve got more of a concept of little things.”
The running back’s fresh legs and confidence in his abilities stand out to his teammates during the weak. Like McDaniels, Orton has been impressed with what he’s seen from Moreno on the practice field.
“I think he is playing with a better speed to him and really going through the holes expecting to get through there and getting in the second level to make a move,” Orton said.
In the hours leading up the game in San Diego, Robert Ayers worked out with Strength and Conditioning Coach Rich Tuten to evaluate his progress after missing the past five games.
Everyone decided it would be prudent to give the linebacker a little more time to heal.
“At the end of the day it was on the safer side to wait at least one more week,” Ayers said. “That’s what me, Coach (McDaniels), (Don) “Wink” (Martindale) and everybody felt was the best decision, and that’s what we did.”
Ayers had practiced throughout the week at Dove Valley and felt well enough to travel with the team, but he knew game day could be a different story.
“I felt good,” he said. “But there’s no real way to simulate a 320-pound guy trying to knock you off the ball.”
He was back at practice on Wednesday, and said he’ll stay patient in preparation for St. Louis on Sunday.
Ayers said he won’t let the desire to help his teammates cloud his decision about when he can return.
“That’s what means the most to me, to be able to play and help my team,” he said. “That’s what I’m looking forward to. I’m going to take it one practice at a time.”
PRAYERS FOR HEIMERDINGER
Our thoughts and prayers are with Tennessee Titans Offensive Coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, who has started chemotherapy treatments for cancer. Heimerdinger helped the Broncos to two Super Bowl championships by coaching wide receivers from 1995-1999. He came back to Denver and held the title of Assistant Head Coach for two seasons from 2006-2007.
-Gabe Hiatt, DenverBroncos.com
Below are pictures from Wednesday’s practice: