Undrafted rookie free agent, Juwan Thompson, who started the offseason buried on the Denver Broncos’ depth chart, is now taking some first-team reps. Last week, the team suffered a scare when starting running back, Montee Ball, had to have an emergency appendectomy. Although he’ll likely miss the balance of the preseason, he will be ready to go for week 1 vs the Indianapolis Colts. Next man up.
C.J. Anderson, who has been the Broncos #3 RB on the depth chart, suffered a concussion in Thursday night’s game vs the Seattle Seahawks. He will have to pass through the NFL’s concussion protocol before he can be cleared to play again. It’ll likely be after next week’s matchup vs the San Francisco 49ers.
In Ball’s absence, Ronnie Hillman has been #1 on the depth chart and started vs the Seahawks on Thursday. The Broncos’ first-team offensive line struggled initially vs the Seahawks, making it difficult for Hillman to find a hole. But he did run with true burst and had one explosive run called back, due to a ticky tack holding penalty.
Juwan Thompson was the hero of Thursday night. Similar to C.J. Anderson’s coming out party last preseason vs the 49ers, Thompson emerged from last week’s game as the buzz of training camp.
Thompson carried the ball 6 times, for 59 yards, before leaving the game with concussion symptoms. He was later cleared to return and was the primary back during Brock Osweiler’s 4th quarter TD drive.
Since then, the UDFA out of Duke has been receiving some first-team reps. Thompson displays great decisiveness and once he makes his decision to cut and turn up field, he does so with explosion and burst.
As John Lynch mentioned in the CBS broadcast of last Thursday night’s game, Thompson preempts the contact and administers the hit. When guys are going backward, when trying to tackle him, you know he’s running hard and with authority. Thompson has kept his nose to the grindstone throughout all of camp. He has immersed himself in the Broncos’ playbook and it’s translating to the grass.
Since joining the Broncos as the Vice President of Football Operations and de facto General Manager, John Elway has been able to mine some true diamonds in the rough out of the UDFA player pool, each year. Chris Harris, Jr, Aaron Brewer, Steven Johnson, and C.J. Anderson, all went undrafted, but have been able to impact the Broncos’ roster. It’s looking like Thompson could be next on that list.
With 2 of the Broncos’ top 3 RBs out, due to injury, we probably shouldn’t read too much into Thompson taking first-team reps, for now, but it is an encouraging sign for a young player who looked a lot like a former #30 for the Broncos last Thursday night.