(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
The final six games of the 2012 season could be running back Knowshon Moreno‘s final opportunity to start in Denver, and he is not taking that fact for granted.
“It feels good to be back, but you hate to see a teammate go down with an injury,” Moreno said on Monday. ”That really hurts, but at the same time, we have a lot of capable guys in the backfield that can get the job done for this team also.”
Moreno has been inactive for the Broncos over the past eight games while starter Willis McGahee and rookie Ronnie Hillman have handled the bulk of the carries for Denver. With McGahee out for possibly the rest of the regular season, Moreno will get the chance to start for the first time since Week 2 of the 2011 season.
“Next week, it’ll be more than likely Knowshon instead of Willis,” Coach John Fox said on Monday. ”He’s looked, actually over the last couple of weeks, very good.”
“(Sitting out the past eight weeks has been) tough,” said Moreno. ”You just want to go out there and help your team win. I took the approach where I was helping my team win in practice, doing any type of special-teams or scout team work that I needed to do to help the team win. That’s the approach I was taking.”
“You just never know when your chance is going to be. When your chances do come, you’ve got to make the most of those and go about it the right way. I think that’s where I was.”
Moreno’s return comes at an ideal time during the season. The Broncos have a match-up against the 1-9 Chiefs on deck—a team Moreno has done historically well against, rushing 84 times for 455 yards (5.4 yards per carry) and four scores in five games against Kansas City.
“I’m not even thinking about that. All I’m thinking about now is right now, and doing the things I have to do to get back on the field.”
Moreno’s most productive season was his rookie year, when he rushed for 947 yards and 7 touchdowns. Since then, Moreno’s productivity has slipped and he has struggled to stay healthy.
With a new opportunity, a humbled, team-first attitude and a bulked-up body (he says he’s bumped up from 200 to 215 pounds), Moreno has a chance to become Denver’s main running back moving forward. But he is willing to share the load.
“We have a great group of guys. We lift each other up, and we feed off each other, and that’s the great thing about us. We like to see all of us making plays, and when we do, we’re all cheering. We have a great group, definitely, at the running back position.”
If Moreno can stay healthy and perform effectively, Denver’s offense will be able to stay balanced. Otherwise, it will be “Next man up,” once again.