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Horse Tracks: Devontae Booker embracing leadership role in Broncos’ backfield

After the release of C.J. Anderson, third-year pro Devontae Booker is embracing his new leadership role as the elder statesman of the Broncos’ running back stable.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country.

With the release of veteran running back C.J. Anderson, the Denver Broncos have a new leader in their backfield — Devontae Booker.

After playing a back-up role his first two seasons with the team, Booker will have a shot at being the leader of the team’s running back stable. Though I wouldn’t count out rookie running back Royce Freeman or second-year player De’Angelo Henderson from having that opportunity as well. Nevertheless, the third-year player from Utah is embracing his role as the elder statesman of the unit and is looking forward to doing whatever he can to help the team rebound in 2018.

“The rookies are asking me a lot of questions, and ‘Hop’ too, because we’ve been here a couple of years already. I’m about the oldest guy in the group, so they ask me questions and we’ve been getting them straight forward coming out here in practice and just the little things are getting better,” stated Booker.

“It’s just all of us competing as a group and getting better each day. We’re going to keep pushing forward, go out there and be good.”

In his first two years with the team, Booker has seen action in 29 games with six starts, but an offseason injury that limited his reps early on last season. He has carried the ball 253 times for 911 yards and five touchdowns, but has been a reliable weapon as a receiver out of the backfield reeling in 61 catches for 540 yards and one score. With him being the most experienced back out of the group, he knows he has the ability to be the team’s back and Head Coach Vance Joseph is looking forward to seeing Booker make a big leap in 2018.

“We’ve got four or five backs competing to be the guy, so he’s got to come out and work and earn the right to be the guy,” Joseph remarked. “Obviously he understands that with C.J. gone, it’s a wide open race. He’s excited about that and he should take a step forward. He’s a good football player, but we want more from him.”

Booker isn’t phased by the added pressure the coaching staff has placed on him to be the lead back moving forward, but also doesn’t mind if the team opts to use a running back by committee approach either.

“I like it, to be honest,” Booker mentioned in regard to the higher expectations for him entering his third season with the team. “Running back by committee, if it happens like that, I’m all for it. Just as long as I can get out there and help my team contribute to win.”

At the end of the day, the Broncos boast a youthful backfield with a handful of players who have unique skill sets and can contribute to the team’s success this coming season. It doesn’t necessarily matter to me who the ‘lead guy’ is, all we can hope for is that the team has a much more efficient and productive running game in 2018. An established ground attack will be essential to the efficacy of the offense, and undoubtedly bolster quarterback Case Keenum’s ability to make game-changing plays in the passing game.

As always, thank you for reading and here is today’s offering of Horse Tracks.

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