- Jeff Legwold, ESPN Staff Writer
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos rookies made the transition last week, from simply young players trying to make an impression on their more experienced peers to young players who now carry the burden of day-to-day expectations about doing the job for a Super Bowl hopeful.
That’s a big jump in the few days between the roster cutdown and the Broncos’ season opener last Thursday night. With that in mind, here’s the rookie report, a weekly check-in with how Denver's first-year class on offense is doing:
Ballstrong>Running back Montee Ball: Citizens of the fantasy football nation, don’t say you weren’t warned. The Broncos will almost certainly line up in a three-wide receiver set this season more than any other formation. So, the running the back who plays the most for this team will be the one who gets it done in that set. That means pass protection and handling the audibles are as high of priorities as actually running with the ball. And the guy who the Broncos believe handles that the best right now is Knowshon Moreno. That’s why Moreno played 37 snaps on offense against the Ravens and Ball played 18. Most of Ball’s work came out of the heavier two- and three-tight end looks. He did have an assignment bobble late in the win when he went to the wrong side of Manning to take a handoff. The play nearly resulted in a fumbled exchange, but Manning made a quick adjustment in his footwork and Ball wisely slowed up to take the ball. When Ball handles some of the non-running duties a little more cleanly, he’ll get to carry the ball more. But this is going to be a rotation much of the year, with plenty of ebb and flow all around between Moreno, Ball and Ronnie Hillman.
Quarterback Zac Dysert: Dysert was the No. 3 quarterback for the opener, so he ended up being one of the Broncos’ seven gameday inactives. He received good reviews in his work in practice last week as the Broncos prepared for the Ravens. That will be his role for much of the year as he will likely impersonate some of the league’s best quarterbacks on the scout team.
Running back C.J. Anderson: Anderson continues to make progress in his recovery from a severe MCL sprain he suffered during practice in the days following the preseason opener. Anderson has not used crutches for roughly 10 days -- “I felt like I didn’t need them the last week I used them, but I’m trying to listen to the trainers’’ -- and could return to practice, at least on a limited basis, at some point in the coming days. Because of the injury he was a gameday inactive for the Ravens, but it will be crowded choice at running back when he’s cleared to play. He may have to find a way into some special teams work to be on the gameday roster initially.
Practice squad: Wide receiver Tavarres King, a fifth-round pick, and tackle Vinston Painter, a sixth-round pick, were waived and continue to work primarily as scout team players. Though Friday was a day off practice for the Broncos regulars, the practice squad players went through an on-field workout.
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