There are eleven player in Denver Broncos history that have worn the #46 jersey. Four Defensive Backs, four Running Backs, one Halfback, a Linebacker and a two-way player. At first glance it's a little hard to choose a clear winner, so let me show you what I've dug up. Here is the slate of candidates for the Greatest Bronco to wear #46...
KaRon Coleman RB 2000
Bobby Micho RB 1986
Dave Preston RB 1978-83
John Rowser DB 1974-76
Terry Erwin RB 1968
Jim Summers DB 1967
John Griffin HB 1964-66
Norman Bass DB 1964
Bob Zeman DB 1962-63
Hardy Brown LB 1960
Hardy Brown was drafted by the New York Giants in the 12th round (104th overall) of the 1947 NFL Draft. He played for the Brooklyn Dodgers (1948) and the Chicago Hornets (1949) of the All America Football Conference. Following that, Hardy split the 1950 season between the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Colts before spending 5 years as a San Francisco 49ers. He went to the Pro Bowl as a Niner in 1952. Brown also played for the Chicago Cardinals in 1956. He joined the Broncos for the 1960 season and started 13 games at Middle Linebacker. However, there are no stats recorded for him.
Bob Zeman was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the 10th round (119th overall) of the 1959 NFL Draft. He played for the L.A. Chargers, then the San Diego Chargers in 1960-61 before coming to Denver. Zeman played for two seasons as a Bronco, going to the Pro Bowl in 1962. He started all 28 games at Left Safety and had 7 interceptions, including one for a touchdown. Bob also returned 5 punts in '62 for an 11.8 average.
Norman Bass played one game for the Broncos in 1964.
John Griffin was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 4th round (43rd overall) of the 1963 NFL Draft and the Denver Broncos in the 8th round (61st overall) of the 1963 AFL Draft. After a 10-game stint with the Rams that first year, Griffin joined the Broncos for the 1964-66 seasons. He had 4 interceptions in 1965 as a backup at Left Safety including a 44-yard return for a touchdown. All total, John played 26 games for the Broncos.
Jim Summers was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 9th round (217th overall) of the 1967 NFL Draft. He played 11 games for the Broncos in 1967.
Terry Erwin started 2 of 9 games at Running Back for Denver in 1968. He ran for 76 yards on 24 carries and caught 2 passes for 21 yards. Terry also returned 3 kickoffs for an 18.3 yard average.
John Rowser was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 3rd round (78th overall) of the 1967 NFL Draft. He won a championship with the Packers in Super Bowl II (1968). John played for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1970-73 and joined the Broncos in 1974. Rowser started 10 of 11 games at Left Cornerback in 1974 and started all 27 games in 1975-76 at Free Safety. In those 3 seasons, John made 9 interceptions. Two of those were returned for touchdowns. He also recovered 3 Fumbles.
Bobby Micho was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 10th round (272nd overall) of the 1984 NFL Draft. He may be listed as a Running Back, but Bobby was a Tight End/Fullback in Dan Reeves' offense. Bobby started 3 of 26 games in his two seasons in a Bronco uniform. He ran for 8 yards on 4 carries and caught 25 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns. Micho's 2 touchdown receptions came in the same game, a 26-17 win over Kansas City during Week 5 in 1987. A 26 yard pass from Ken Karcher for the first score and a 5 yard pass from Karcher to finish off the Chiefs.
KaRon Coleman played Running Back for 3 years as a Bronco, but only wore #46 for the 2000 season. That year was his most productive in Denver. KaRon played in 9 games, with 183 yards and 1 touchdown on 54 carries. He also caught a 5-yard pass, Fumbled twice and lost one Fumble.
Spencer Larsen was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 6th round (183rd overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft. In Week 11 of his rookie year, Spencer became the 1st NFL player since 2003 to start a game on offense and defense. Only 4 players have done that in the NFL since 1990. He also played on Special Teams during the game. The feat earned Spencer Rookie of the Week honors. Larsen has started 9 of 34 games for the Broncos. As a Fullback, he has recorded 18 yards on 3 carries and 5 catches for 51 yards and 1 touchdown. He has also returned 4 kickoffs for a 14.3 average. Defensively, he has made 33 Total Tackles, 19 of them on Special Teams.
Larsen is a fan favorite and in time, will likely end up earning this accolade. However, the stats and length of service currently speak otherwise.
It is for those reasons, that the Greatest Bronco to wear #46 is...
Dave Preston RB 1978-83
Dave Preston was drafted by the New England Patriots in the 12th round (333rd overall) of the 1977 NFL Draft, but played his entire six-year career in Denver. Dave started 35 of 76 games, rushing for 1,793 yards and 10 touchdowns on 479 carries. He also caught 161 passes for 1,423 yards and 3 touchdowns. On Special Teams, he returned 18 punts for an 8.5 average and 26 kickoffs for a 23.0 yard average. In 684 touches, Preston fumbled 15 times, recovering 4 of them (1 every 62.2 touches).
"Sarge" earned the Special Team's MVP his Rookie season, and his most productive year came in 1981 when he combined for 1,150 yards rushing and receiving.
During his years with the Broncos Dave was also very active in community activities, serving as Colorado Sports Chairman for Muscular Dystrophy. He was honored by the Boy Scouts of America for his community involvement, and nominated for the Miller High-Life NFL Man-of-the Year award in 1981. Preston is a Founding Board Member of Rebuilding Together Metro Denver, and he currently serves on the Denver Bronco Alumni Council.
MHR gives a Mile High Salute to Dave Preston as the Greatest Bronco to wear #46.