The Denver Broncos placed their starting Running Back, Willis McGahee, on the Injured Reserve List this week after a helmet to knee collision during Sunday's contest against the Chargers tore his MCL and fractured his left leg. McGahee has received the "Designated For Return" label and will be out of commission for a minimum of 6 weeks. This leaves the Broncos weakened in their Inside Running Game and a veritable plethora of scenarios to consider for a possible solution. Lance Ball, Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno are the next men up and there is also Jeremiah Johnson waiting in the wings on the Practice Squad.
Questions remain as to whether McGahee's replacement will be filled by a Free Agent or will Denver simply promote Jeremiah and find another player for the Practice Squad. Steve Slaton had a tryout at Dove Valley on Tuesday and Jacob Hester came in for a look today. At the very least, the Broncos are exploring their options. Personally, I don't believe they need to rush into anything just yet. They can afford to wait another week. But I will return to this thought in a bit.
I went ahead and took the liberty of finding a list of Free Agent Running Backs. The only place I found was at Rotoworld. There is a note at the top which states that this is NOT a Fantasy list, but I think some of these players are riding Practice Squads throughout the league. They are still a viability since the Broncos have a free roster spot to fill. One more caveat: I don't know what condition of health any of these guys are in. A few are coming off injury.
This list could be culled down in a few ways. The Broncos aren't in need of a scatback, slasher or change of pace type Running Back. That eliminates a few. Age would thin these ranks a bit more. Still, there are a few that may have some appeal. Ryan Grant or Cadillac Williams perhaps. There is one player that intrigues me a bit though. Xavier Omon was in Dove Valley this summer for Training Camp and was one of the later cuts. I was impressed by him. He could fill the inside runner void almost immediately and he is familiar with the Denver Offense. As I understand it, he is residing on the San Francisco 49ers Practice Squad.
I stated earlier, that I didn't think the Broncos need to find an immediate replacement and here's why.
Lance Ball got the start last year at Arrowhead during Week 10. He totaled career highs in carries (30) and rushing yards (96) as the primary back. That was with a Quarterback that only had two completions. Granted, the Chiefs are a different team this season, but Denver has a better QB too.
Knowshon Moreno had a 22 carry, 106 yard effort and a 23 carry, 161 yard game against the Chiefs, both during the 2010 season. He has been Inactive since Week 2 and has fresh legs. My guess is that Moreno will start on Sunday at Arrowhead and the Broncos will continue their search through next week.
Whether Jeremiah Johnson is activated from the Practice Squad or a Free Agent Running Back comes in, Knowshon Moreno, Lance Ball and Ronnie Hillman will be toting the rock this week for the Broncos as they face the Kansas City Chiefs.