Aug 17, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Denver Broncos running back Juwan Thompson (40) knocks over San Francisco 49ers defensive back C.J. Spillman (27) while running the ball in the third quarter at Levi
He has all the makings of my next Man Crush, per my wife. Like a former running back Broncos Country knows pretty well, Thompson made his introduction with authority. Yes, it was preseason against backups and their backups. But you can’t coach or teach what Thompson did or has.
His first step.
His quickness to hit the zone.
His power running style.
Let’s not get crazy with comparisons to that other running back we love. Still, not since him have the Broncos had a running back who had that list of qualities. They have tried. Some have had moderate success.
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Clinton Portis was rookie of the year but he’s best known for the trade that brought Champ Bailey to Denver. Mike Anderson was in that mold but he couldn’t sustain it. Knowson Moreno was good last season but John Elway didn’t buy in. Denver is hopeful Montee Ball can take the load and become that guy the organization has pined for since Terrell Davis.
Maybe Ball can. But if Thompson continues to build on what he did this preseason in the regular season, Thompson will become Denver’s No. 1 running back.
It’s not just his rare plethora of skills, either. He can play special teams. He can block, which means he can pick up the blitzing linebacker or defensive back to make sure Peyton Manning stays upright. Heck, he can play linebacker if needed. And he’s big. Thompson is a running back with a fullback’s build.
Hold on. I need to take a deep breathe. This cat still has a lot to prove.
Aug 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos running back Juwan Thompson (40) rushes in the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Seahawks 21-16. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
What Thompson showed this preseason is something no Denver running back has shown since Davis. If that was something you could coach or teach, it would have been utilized by now – especially given how long the Broncos have tried to find TD’s replacement.
I’m not saying Thompson is the next Davis.
I’m not even saying he’s knocked Ball or CJ Anderson from their spots on the depth chart. What I am saying is Thompson has earned the chance to work with Manning and the No. 1 offense this season. At some point. Thompson has done that since the first preseason game. Here’s the shocker of the day: He still shines.
I like Ball.
I like Anderson.
But neither of them can do the things Thompson has shown. It’s not a coincidence that when John Lynch asked Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase who he was most looking forward to seeing in the first preseason game, he said Thompson.
The coaches know what we saw this preseason and will continue to see if Thompson is given the chance. He is the running back to lead this offense. After over a decade-long search, the Broncos have found their replacement for the back we all know and love.
Running backs like him don’t come along that often.