Sunday, June 6, 2010

Optimism surrounds Broncos' Moreno

The Broncos have been revamping their rushing attack, moving Spencer Larsen to fullback, having Tight End Marquez Branson fill in as fullback, signing fullback Kyle Eckel, and considering veteran Running back Brian Westbrook.

Rushing behind a fullback was when Knowshon Moreno was at his best last season, and the Broncos look to use more fullback formations this season. Last season many noted that Moreno didn't feel comfortable, trying to hard to stick to the playbook, and not improvising enough. During his rookie season, Moreno didn't like quite like the agile back he was while at Georgia. Signs point to that changing in 2010.

Mike Klis of the Denver Post says he has shown signs of improvement, Bronco coaches and players tend to agree. Linebacker Wesley Woodyard had praise for Moreno, "I will say this is the first time he's beaten me several times in one-on-one tackle drills," Woodyard said. "I think he's more comfortable with himself. He's playing faster. It's a big difference with him." Kils went on to note how Moreno fell short of his expectations, rushing for only 3.8 yards a carry. Even Moreno knows there is always room for improvement, "I'm definitely more comfortable," Moreno said. "Last year, everything was moving so fast. You had to stay on top of that, remember this, do this. Now it all comes back to you. You just get into a flow, and you can start to flow now instead of thinking."

Much of Moreno's struggles from last season were mentally caused, as he remembered
the coaches' instruction to a point of his detriment, but Kils writes, Moreno is starting to think on his own:
There is a part of the brain that can absorb an assignment without thinking about it. Freed of thought, instincts send signals to a running back's feet, legs and hips. Maybe that's why running backs such as Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton also averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry as rookies, only to finish as the top two running backs in NFL history. "This year I feel like I'm out there letting it all out," Moreno said. "I'm loose." Besides eliminating arresting thought, Moreno has improved physically. He has added two pounds, all seemingly in shoulder muscle, from his 210-pound playing weight of last season. And remember, he suffered a knee injury on his second preseason carry last year and wasn't 100 percent recovered until close to midseason. He'll also be running behind a larger offensive line. Currently, 14 of the 15 offensive linemen on the Broncos' roster weigh at least 300 pounds. Better for a Moreno mash of a 1-yard on third-and-inches. "It's definitely a big emphasis," Moreno said. "You've got to keep that drive going. You can't go back to the sideline after third-and-inches."
Without all his high rookie expectations, Moreno looks to improve, rushing behind a bigger offensive line, and in some cases, a fullback this season. A running back has to have confidence, and Moreno has gained confidence in himself. "I haven't noticed him getting yelled at by any of the coaches, telling him he needs to run this route or whatever," said linebacker Wesley Woodyard. "He's out there telling other people what to do, so that's always a positive sign." Expect a different rusher in 2010, a more confident, comfortable, faster rusher.

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