With C.J. Anderson’s status in doubt, the Denver Broncos need Devontae Booker to step up

Booker is averaging 4.8 yards per carry. Can he keep that figure above 4.5 as he plays more snaps?
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Denver Broncos Devontae Booker (23) rushes 5 yards during third quarter action against the San Diego Chargers in the NFL game at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Ca October 13, 2016. (Photo: © Eric Lars Bakke/Denver Broncos)

Broncos running back Devontate Booker's role will increase with C.J. Anderson out. (Photo: © Eric Lars Bakke/Denver Broncos)

It remains unclear how many games Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson will miss with a right knee injury.

Reports on Wednesday indicated Anderson would miss a "few weeks" with what was being described as a bone bruise. Then on Thursday, the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Anderson was done for the year.

Anderson quickly shot down that report, writing "false"...then deleted his tweet.

Update, 11:50 a.m.: Mike Klis is reporting that Anderson undergoing surgery today to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. He's "likely headed" to the injured reserve.

So we don't know how many games Anderson will bet out with the knee injury he sustained in the first quarter against the Texans on Monday. Maybe a few weeks, maybe the entire season. What we do know is this: Anderson's absence creates a void at running back that his backup, Devontae Booker, will be asked to fill.

Booker, a rookie fourth-round pick out of Utah State, received double-digit carries for the first time this season against Houston. The Broncos gave him the pigskin 17 times, and he rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown.

Booker, at roughly 5-foot-11 and 220 pounds, is a dangerous combination of speed and power. It's difficult to bring him down with arm tackles, and he constantly seems to bowl over defenders and fall forward for extra yards. Here are two of his runs in the second quarter Monday.



I wouldn't want to tackle him.

Now the question is what can he do with a heavier workload? He's only carried ball 51 times this season, compared to Anderson's 110. Booker is averaging 4.8 yards per carry. Can he keep that figure above 4.5 as he plays more snaps?

Denver's mediocre offense hinges on rushing the ball effectively. In five wins, the Broncos have averaged 122.6 yards per game. In two losses, they're averaging 84 yards. Running the football well sets up everything else, and makes second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian's job so much easier.

Denver needs Booker, and to a lesser extent third-string running back Kapri Bibbs, to step up while Anderson's gone. Their first test is Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.

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