Name: Juwan Thompson
Height: 5-11 Weight: 225
Age: 25 Experience: 4th
If you were to guess a current Broncos running back with a career average of 4.3 yards-per-carry chances are Juwan Thompson would not even cross your mind.
That seems like your problem, not Thompson’s. Juwan is the guy that does his job. You may be the other guy...
Since joining John Fox’s squad in 2014, through Gary Kubiak and now into Vance Joseph’s tenure Thompson has remained steadfast.
On October 23, 2014, Thompson had two rushing touchdowns in a home game against the San Diego Chargers helping push the Broncos to 6-1 on the season.
On November 30, 2016 he replaced then rookie (and injured) fullback Andy Janovich in the lineup.
There isn’t a running back on the team that has taken more reps with the Broncos than Thompson. He knows where all of the bodies are buried, he also knows enough about playing running back for the Broncos that there is little issue when he switches to fullback.
I mentioned Thompson’s career yards-per-carry average earlier, but he also averages 7.6 yards-per-catch for his career.
Oh and he plays special teams... Boy does he play special teams. And playing special teams will be the only way that Thompson can make a roster spot for himself. That and the fact that he can play both running back and fullback.
This offseason Denver signed Jamaal Charles who currently ranks 59th in NFL history for rushing yards. (Terrell Davis currently ranks 55th for those of you, while current players LeSean McCoy (38th), Marshawn Lynch (37th), Matt Forte (24th), Chris Johnson (32nd), Adrian Peterson (16th) and Frank Gore (8th) all stand in his way to the Hall of Fame. Charles could make most of them irrelevant with a couple of Super Bowl wins.) They also drafted a running back in the 6th round this season, De'Angelo Henderson, presumably on the recommendation of assistant head coach/running backs coach Eric Studesville.
That’s a long path to the 53-man for Thompson and while he’s been good on special teams for years now, he may not have the pedigree, nor practice squad eligibility to fight through all of these road bumps. If you’d like a positive from this bad, know that Thompson will be playing like these preseason snaps may be the last of his career. Also, as I said, he can play running back and fullback. Show me Charles or Henderson doing that...
I interviewed Denver’s Chris Harris a few years ago and he called the practice squad hell. He said that you work as hard as the guys on the active roster and instead of film sessions, you had to go to the weight room. Well, here’s three years in the weight room for Thompson and Kapri Bibbs (who is now with the San Francisco 49ers and the Broncos 2017 5th round pick (no. 177. Trent Taylor, WR, Louisiana Tech. Led the NCAA in receptions, yards and touchdowns) and now Denver has an extra 2018 4th round pick. Some might call a possible 4th round pick that early in the round more of a late 3rd round pick.):
Here is Broncos assistant head coach/running backs coach Eric Studesville earlier this offseason on the expectations in the running backs room:
“The expectation is the same every year. I expect all those guys to come in and compete as hard as they can to be the starting tailback to help us win. It’s going to be the one who plays the best and the most consistently throughout camp that is that guy. We’re going to need more than one person. We’re going to need a couple. I don’t know who that’s going to be. That’s why we go to camp, so we can sort all that out.”
“Throw a steak off the ark/ To a pool full of sharks, he'll take it. Leave him in the wilderness/ With a sworn nemesis, he'll make it. Take the gratitude from him, I bet he'll show you somethin', whoa...” Kendrick Lamar - XXX featuring U2.
Full Disclosure: I want to meet the man that counts Juwan Thompson out. Let me know where he’s spending his money. I’ll take it.