Sharing the load in Denver's backfield

August, 20, 2008
8/20/08
7:10
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

In the last couple of years, Denver coach Mike Shanahan, one of the most successful running coaches in the history of the NFL, has said he doesn't care if he has one primary tailback or a committee. Shanahan's goal in his running attack is to average five yards a carry.

Makes sense, doesn't it?

It is looking like the 2008 Broncos running game may be more a committee than a single tailback proposition. Second-year player Selvin Young will likely be the starter. But Young, who has had durability issues, is best suited for 10-15 carries a game. He willl need help. That's where the committee comes in.

The Broncos were very excited about fifth-round pick Ryan Torain before he blew out his elbow two weeks ago. Torain is making good progress after his Aug. 8 surgery and the team is hopeful he'll return after the bye week, which is Oct. 26.

Because of the Torain injury, it would not be a shock at all if Denver adds a running back before the start of the season.

Who? A good question. Denver has such a specialized running attack there are probably several players around the league who are in danger of being cut that would be a good fit for the Broncos. I'm not saying Denver is on the verge of finding a new starting running back but don't be surprised if the Broncos find someone who can work into the rotation.

One player who is for sure joining Young in the Denver rotation to help Shanahan realize his goal of five yards per carry is Andre Hall. This is a very exciting player. Even though he's very small, Hall is a playmaker, and had his share of big plays last year before getting hurt. Hall was very impressive last week against Dallas and could be Denver's short yardage runner if he stays healthy. This is a player to watch.

Other running backs Denver are veteran Michael Pittman and undrafted free agent Anthony Alridge. The team likes Alridge a lot because of his blazing speed. He can be a terrific change-of-pace runner. But he has to stay healthy.

It looks like he could be part of the committee that Denver will likely employ. As long as they get their yardage, Shanahan won't care who gets the majority of the carries for the Broncos.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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