Gary Kubiak announced the former 2013 undrafted free agent who totaled 1,173 yards from scrimmage after stepping in for multiple injured runners will open the Broncos’ OTAs next month as the starter.
“He made a big jump as a player, and I think he’s earned the right to walk in to the offseason program — the OTAs — and line up as our starter,” Kubiak told Mason. “But he’s got to continue to earn it on a daily basis. I think he’s shown he has all the ability to be an excellent starter in this league, so we’re really looking forward to working with him.”
There were previous rumblings of a more open competition heading into training camp, but Anderson is the only runner in the Broncos’ top trio that didn’t suffer a season-altering injury in 2014. A groin ailment sidelined Montee Ball, 2014’s opening-night starter, and paved the way for Ronnie Hillman (two 100-plus-yard games after taking over for Ball as the starter in Week 4) before the smaller ball-carrier sustained a foot sprain that sidelined him for nearly two months.
Early-round draft picks Hillman (third round, 2012) and Ball (second, 2013) have enjoyed sporadic success in Denver, but neither matched the run Anderson did last season. The stout runner seems a natural fit in Kubiak’s zone-blocking system that’s made stars out of several backs, most recently undrafted talent Arian Foster. In more than 100 extra snaps last season, however, Foster couldn’t match Anderson’s production, according to Pro Football Focus, which rated him as a top-4 halfback (subscription required).
This could begin a more stable offseason for Anderson, who was fourth on the Broncos’ depth chart last summer after showing up to training camp in less-than-optimal condition and a healthy scratch in Week 5 against the Cardinals before his steady ascent.