The Broncos currently have seven running backs on the roster. Last season we carried five for most of the year,
McGahee, Hillman, Moreno, L. Ball, Hester and Gronkowski
although I think there were games when we only had 4 on the game day active roster
currently we have:
Hillman, MoneyBall, Moreno, Hester, L. Ball, J Johnson, and CJ Anderson
Very soon we will have to get down to 53, so either two or three of the guys above will get cut. Hillman, MoneyBall, Moreno and Hester are locks - although Hester could be a surprise cut, but I sincerely doubt it because of his use on special teams and his short yardage effectiveness during his NFL career. So realistically Lance Ball, Jeremiah Johnson and CJ Anderson will be cut. Because of CJ's performance against the third string San Fransisco D, there has been some worry that he wouldn't clear waivers and another team would sign him. Alternatively that he would not want to sign up with our practice squad and would choose to sign with another team's practice squad - which he could choose to do. Either way, the worry is that we would lose him to another team.
Firstly, lets look at what he actually did against the 49ers
15 carries for 69 yards (4.6 ypc), long of 17.
Here are his yardages behind our pitiful 3rd string OL: 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 17, 13, 5, 0, 2, 4, 3, 2, 11 and 1 yd
That is impressive, partly because of how poor his blocking was on most of those plays and partly because he WAS the offense for the broncos on on drive. Seven of his carries came on one drive. Four of his 15 carries resulted in a first down.
So does that performance make him worthy of a roster spot - keeping in mind that he is currently injured and will not be ready for two to three more weeks? Additionally does that performance and what we (and others) have heard about his camp performance mean that a team with little RB depth might covet him and steal him from us if we try to sneak him onto the practice squad?
CJ is listed at 5-8, 224 lbs. That is a fireplug back in the style of Joe Morris or Ray Rice. In order to determine how another team might view Anderson, we must also see what other RBs might be available after the whole league has cut down to 53 players.
Let's step outside the Broncos for a moment and evaluate other NFL RBs based on preseason performance
All of whom are on the bubble
Jordan Toddman (5-9, 203)– currently the 4th-6th RB on the Jags depth chart. Has 20 carries for 163 in the preseason largely because of one 63 yards TD run. He was on the Vikings and Chargers PS in 2011 and the Jags PS and active roster in 2012.
Dan Herron (5-10, 213) – currently 4th or 5th on the Bungals depth chart. He has 19 carries for 116 yards and one TD (on a 40 yard run). He appeared in 3 games for the Bungals in 2012 after being a 6th round pick out of OSU.
Keiland Williams (5-11, 225) – currently 4th-6th on the Skins depth chart. Has played for both the Skins and Lions in three NFL seasons with 125 carries over three years. Has 18 carries for 102 yards and a TD in three preseason games.
Spencer Ware (5-10, 228)– currently 4th-6th on the Seachickens depth chart. He was a 6th round pick in 2013 so he has a better chance than the other two contenders for the 4th or 5th RB spots on the roster. Has 16 carries for 86 yards and a TD in the preseason.
Jonas Gray (5-9, 223)– currently 4th or 5th on the Fins depth chart. 2nd year power back out of ND, he has 33 carries for 99 yards in the preseason along with one catch for 4 yards.
All of those guys could and probably will be available after the final round of cuts. All of these guys are currently healthy and most of these guys have a similar somatype to Anderson. If you were in the front office of another organization, why would you pick up an injured Anderson over these guys? True Anderson would be cheaper, but his preseason performance is not the stuff of legend and I sincerely doubt that other front offices are salivating at the chance to snatch him away from us.
Finally, keep in mind that even if he ends up on our practice squad, any other team can sign him away from us off of our practice squad with the stipulation that he must be placed on their 53 man roster for four weeks after the signing.