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C.J. Anderson is off to the hottest start of his career

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Off the bike and onto the gridiron, Anderson keeps pumping those legs.

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Dallas Cowboys v Denver Bronco Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Every player that makes it in the NFL gets to see narratives develop around them. Whether positive or negative, these storylines shape how that player is seen by NFL fans. And most of the time, these narratives are pretty enduring. A highly touted draft prospect may bust out in truth long before he’s fully recognized as a bust by fans. A guy who struggled early might overcome his issues, but still be defined by them long afterward. Or a great player may earn a nickname that’ll carry on into the annals of NFL legend.

The 2017 Broncos seem to be in the business of busting narratives.

Last Sunday, they busted the heck out of the narrative that the Cowboys’ offensive line combined with Ezekiel Elliott’s rushing talent was an unstoppable combination. And in Week 1 they popped the bubble on the irritating offseason storyline that the Broncos were a team in decline and heading for the basement of the AFC West.

It’s not all about forcibly readjusting opponents’ expectations, though. There are some Broncos who’re well on their way to rewriting their personal narratives, and perhaps public opinion as well.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The most obvious of these players is Trevor Siemian, who’s looking to erase perceptions of him as a game manager and stopgap QB. Or take Bennie Fowler, who’d like to establish himself as Denver’s third wide receiver rather than just another backup. On defense, Shaquil Barrett is making the most of his starting opportunity in a bid to be seen as a top end OLB instead of a quality backup.

But one Bronco who’s long been a starter is also looking to change the fanbase’s perceptions of him: C.J. Anderson.

A Long Road

The 5th year running back is no stranger to adversity, beginning his career as an undrafted free agent in 2013. He broke out in the latter half of 2014 and shocked the NFL in a way similar to what 2017 rookie Kareem Hunt is doing in Kansas City.

But then injuries derailed Anderson’s rise to stardom, and bad offensive lines hampered his effectiveness. Offensive issues kept him from getting more than 15 rushing attempts in any game in 2015, and Broncos Country generally soured on him. Even after he scored the final TD of Super Bowl 50, Anderson went into the next offseason with an uncertain future and the perception that he was too injury prone to be a legitimate bellcow running back.

2016 saw Anderson start well against the Panthers, but then fade quickly as a terrible offensive line took its toll. His touches ebbed until a torn meniscus in a Week 7 contest against the Texans ended his season. To date, he has never played a full 16 game season.

Los Angeles Chargers v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

2017

The offseason saw Anderson take up long distance biking and new nutrition habits in an effort to reshape his body and increase his endurance. So far, it’s paying off. He has averaged over 4 yards per carry in both games this season, making it the first time he’s had back to back 4.0+ ypc games since the end of the 2015 season. His 199 total yards rank second in the NFL through two weeks, and he’s broken off multiple 20+ yard plays that remind this fan of the 2014 rumbles that first brought him to prominence.

At his current rate, Anderson could possibly surpass his total 2016 rushing yards before the Broncos hit their Week 5 Bye. If he doesn’t do it by then, odds are he’ll do it soon after. After being an “injury” guy and being a late-starter with the reputation of stinking early in the year, two good games could see Anderson surpass his personal best yardage mark for the first 8 games of a season in just 4 games.

Challenges await, but the Broncos’ plucky tailback is on a pace for a 1,600 yard rushing season behind the improved O-line. If he can keep that pace, he’ll redefine himself in the eyes of Broncos fans and of the league. And if that happens, or if he even gets close, then the Broncos are highly likely to be playing in the postseason... and that’s one period where, much like his great predecessor Terrel Davis, CJ Anderson excels. In five postseason appearances, he’s only failed to maintain a 4.0+ ypc once... and then still managed 3.91.

Horse Tracks

Bills' LeSean McCoy calls C.J. Anderson 'engine' of Broncos offense - Denver Broncos Blog- ESPN
LeSean McCoy sees a correlation between C.J. Anderson's productivity and the Broncos' success. The Bills host the Broncos on Sunday.

Week 2 Surprise Takeaway: The Broncos run defense | NFL Analysis | Pro Football Focus
PFF's Mike Renner has analysis of how the Broncos run defense bottled up Cowboys star HB Ezekiel Elliott on Sunday.

QB Index, Week 3: Russell Wilson stuck in a loop - NFL.com
In his latest update to the signal caller hierarchy, Gregg Rosenthal pinpoints a peculiar problem for Seahawks QB Russell Wilson. And a new QB takes over the 15th spot after an excellent Week 2 performance.

Chris Harris: Playing without T.J. Ward is still hard – ProFootballTalk
The Broncos' defense has played well after cutting safety T.J. Ward just before the start of the season, but that doesn't mean they haven't missed him. Broncos cornerback Chris Harris said on PFT Live that playing without Ward has been difficult. "It's still hard," Harris said.

The Morning Huddle: AFC West, Historically Dominant Division?
Let’s start with the but: It’s early. Still, the numbers are undeniable. Through two weeks, the combined AFC West has been historically dominant.

Trevor Siemian is playing like the quarterback the Broncos NEED him to be - SBNation.com
Ol’ Touchdown Trevor is tied for the NFL lead in TD passes. Retired NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz takes a closer look at the Broncos QB’s red hot start.

Around the NFL

2017 NFL Insiders predict - Week 3 upsets, fantasy flops and surprises, more
Can the Chargers find their first win of 2017 against the Chiefs? Which top fantasy wide receiver should you bench? Which 2-0 team is most at risk of not making the playoffs? Our experts weigh in.

NFL picks 2017, Week 3: Experts see Cowboys and Packers winning again - SBNation.com
Our panel thinks the Cowboys, Packers, and a few others are locks this week, but there’s no consensus about the Raiders.

2017 NFL standings, Week 3: The NFC West is bad again - SBNation.com
We’re only two weeks into the season, but it’s not looking good for the Seahawks, Cardinals, Rams, and 49ers.

J.J. Watt’s Hurricane Harvey relief closes at a remarkable $37.1 million - SBNation.com
A $200,000 goal turned into something much greater.

Ben McAdoo might give up Giants play-calling duties - NFL.com
Following Monday night's flop against the Detroit Lions, New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo said he's considering making significant changes across the board.

Jets acting owner says they’re not tanking, just having “growing pains” – ProFootballTalk
“It couldn’t be further from the truth,” Christopher Johnson said, via Darryl Slater of NJ.com. “I want to win every game. Every player in that locker room wants to win. What you’re seeing, I think, are growing pains."

Best NFL Stadium Foods to Eat in 2017
Where to satisfy your cravings while rooting for your favorite NFL team.

Former players in NFL concussion settlement may be victimized by predatory practices – The Denver Post
In an exploratory hearing Tuesday, the co-lead counsel for the former players laid out the extent of the predatory practices they say they've seen since the settlement went into effect in January.