Broncos' Royce Freeman: May not be starter in name
Broncos head coach Vance Joseph de-emphasized the importance of labeling Freeman or Devontae Booker as the team's starting running back Tuesday, stating that either back could be on the field for the first play of the season opener depending on the play call, Zac Stevens of BSN Denver reports.
Joseph supported his comments with an example, saying that Freeman would likely line up behind quarterback Case Keenum if a power run play is called, whereas Booker might rank as the preferred option if the Broncos opt for a quick pass. Regardless of which back "starts" in Week 1, there's no denying that Freeman has been the more impressive of the two with the ball in his hands this preseason. Playing largely with the first team, Freeman has averaged 5.6 yards per carry to go with three touchdowns, while Booker has been limited to 3.7 yards per clip, right around his career regular-season average. Despite that disparity in efficiency, Booker could earn a decent snap share in the opener by virtue of doing the little things right, such as pass protection. There hasn't been any indication that Freeman has been a major liability in protection, so once the rookie gains more familiarity with the nuances of Denver's scheme, it may not be long before he eats into Booker's playing time further, especially if the veteran fails to impress with the touches he receives early in the season.
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