Good morning, Broncos Country!
The reference started right after he was drafted.
In fact, the selection of the University of Nebraska fullback was a hit. Janovich has been one of the most popular players on the roster since he was selected in the sixth round. Before he ever played a down for the team.
Then fans started to hear and see what this farm boy from Gretna, Neb. is all about. If you haven’t heard of Gretna, you’re probably not alone. It’s in between Lincoln and Omaha and has, at best, 10 stoplights. Janovich truly is a country boy.
Then you see him on the field. You see that farm-boy work ethic. The determination. The drive to succeed. Janovich does whatever is asked of him. Keep in mind this was still the preseason and training camp. Yet his legend continued to grow.
Then it happened.
However it was possible, a fan base grew to favor Janovich even more than it already did.
There was 12 minutes, 16 seconds remaining in the second quarter. It was third-and-one for the Broncos at the Carolina Panthers’ 28-yard line.
Then it happened.
Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison called a hand off. No big deal.
Wait, what? That’s No. 32. That’s a ballsy play call right there.
Wait, what? Holy shit, he’s going to score a touchdown. I bet nobody benefited from those Fantasy points.
Talk about making an entrance.
"It's the first time that I've done that in a game. It's a different ball game than college," Janovich said after the Broncos 21-20 win. "It felt pretty good, but I was positive that I was going to get caught from behind. I'm not the fastest guy out there."
Not only did that play call catch the Panthers defense off guard, it did so for everyone in attendance and watching on TV. But it showed the faith and trust the Broncos coaches already have in Janovich.
That was a key moment in the game. Denver had just forced a three-and-out and needed to keep the drive alive. The Broncos had to get that first down. Not only did they get a first down, they got a touchdown. Not only did they get a touchdown, they made a popular player even more so.
It wasn’t just the touchdown run. Janovich was the lead blocker for Denver's running attack that was the surprise of the game. To do what the Broncos did against the Panthers front seven on the ground was impressive. A big reason why is Janovich. In three plays in the first quarter, he accounted for 70 yards. The 28-yard touchdown, and was the lead blocker on two runs for 42. As a whole, Denver rushed for 148 yards and 5.1 yards per carry.
Still, it’s not every day a Broncos fullback scores a touchdown. The last one to do so was Spencer Larson in 2010. That deserves a celebration.
"A lot of people slapped me on the head, which is my least favorite thing because usually my head is pretty sore by that time, but that's alright," Janovich said with a laugh.
What’s also clear is Janvoich and C.J. Anderson already have developed a rapport. As the season progresses, that will only get stronger.
"Being behind Andy and seeing him pick up the things he picks up, it springs big runs for me or for Devontae Booker," Anderson said. "When he finally gets a big run, it’s huge. He just tossed the ball to the ref, but I was like, ‘That’s your first touchdown.’ I had to run out there and get the ball and give it back to him. I was excited for him."
What should give the Broncos confidence as they head into Week 2 is how well they ran the football against that Carolina defense. Denver won’t face many defenses the remainder of the season with as good of a front seven as the Panthers.
If the Broncos remain consistent on the ground and get rid of the turnovers, they will be near impossible to beat. A big part of that is the offensive line, as well as Anderson and Booker.
The key ingredient may be that farm boy from Gretna.
"C.J., he's great," Janovich said. "He was running off every block that I had. There were some blocks that I didn't have, but that's on me, I have to clean that up so he can run through them."
May the legend continue to grow.
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