With three offensive linemen starting their first NFL games and a starting running back who didn’t play at all in the preseason, the Broncos had their work cut out for them running the ball in Sunday’s season opener at Jacksonville.
Against a physical Jaguars defensive front, the Broncos ground out 89 yards on their 25 rushing attempts, including 60 yards and a touchdown from Moreno in his first game action of the 2010 season.
After analyzing the game tape of the offense in the Broncos’ 24-17 loss, Head Coach Josh McDaniels found several positives, while pinpointing areas to improve as the unit rounds into form.
“The backs were getting to the line of scrimmage, no question about it,” McDaniels said. “It’s just that when you look at the film you always see more yards there than what you got. If we would have just done this or finished this, or made that one cut, then you can see where you gain more yards on certain plays.”
McDaniels praised the offensive line for only allowing one negative run. He was also pleased with the way Moreno’s endurance held up in the Florida heat and humidity despite his limited practice reps in recent weeks.
“We didn’t really get (Moreno) in a situation where he could be in space too many times,” McDaniels said. “But I thought he showed some burst and showed the agility that we know he has and I just expect him every week to get better.”
Still, the head coach said he was concerned his team’s inability to run the ball effectively on early downs led them into too many long situations on later downs.
Moreno agreed with the coach’s assessment that there is plenty for the running backs to work on heading into Sunday’s home opener against Seattle. The second-year running back said he’s feeling good after his first action of the season and ready to keep getting better.
The team also added running back Laurence Maroney via trade this week to boost the ground game, though McDaniels said Maroney has not practiced with the team yet because of a thigh injury.
“There’s a lot of things that we have to fix as a backfield and me personally,” Moreno said. “I have to fix a couple things, so we just have to get back into practice, fix those things and move forward.”
McDaniels spent time working with the running backs early in Thursday’s practice, helping position coach Eric Studesville run the players through drills. Earlier in the day, he said that the ground game might get a boost Sunday as both Ryan Harris, who missed Sunday’s game, and Chris Kuper, who didn’t practice Wednesday, could be available for Sunday’s home opener against Seattle.
No matter who is on the line or in the backfield, McDaniels said the team will continue to try to put their rushing attack in the best position to succeed with the situations and personnel packages they choose to run the ball.
With another chance to improve coming quickly against the Seahawks, Moreno said keeping a positive attitude remains the offense’s best formula for success.
“We’ve just got to move forward and keep on getting better each week,” Moreno said, “because it’s not going to get any easier.”
Practices in Seattle and Denver have not yet wrapped up. Check DenverBroncos.com for a full Thursday injury report later this evening.
- Eric Detweiler, DenverBroncos.com
Below are more photos from today’s workout: