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De’Angelo Henderson will be fighting for playing time in a crowded backfield

Should the Denver Broncos give more playing time to second-year running back De’Angelo Henderson?

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos drafted De’Angelo Henderson with one of their final picks in the 2017 NFL Draft and though he looked promising in the preseason, he did not see much playing time behind C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker until late in the season when the games no longer mattered.

Name: De’Angelo Henderson, Sr.
Position: Running Back
Height: 5’ 7”
Weight: 208
Age: 25
Experience: 2 years
College: Coastal Carolina

The Good

Henderson became a fan favorite when he showed some serious speed and moves in the preseason of 2017. He broke free for a 41 yard TD run against the Bears to seal the game in preseason and he finished the pre-season with 28 carries for 129 yards (4.6 ypc) and 1 rushing TD.

He was used very sparingly, however, during the regular season and was a game-day inactive for 11 of 16 games. He did get used a little in the final game of the season (5 carries for 15 yards, 1 catch for 29 yards and a TD), but he was effectively “red-shirted” last season. The team liked him enough to keep him on the 53-man roster (and not risk him getting poached off waivers).

With C.J. Anderson gone there is room for someone to step into the lead back role and there are three guys who could legitimately fill that role in the crowded backfield.

The Bad

The backfield is crowded. Royce Freeman was a stud and a workhorse at Oregon and Devontae Booker has the experience so it might be difficult for Henderson to get much work this season if he ends up as the #3 RB on the depth chart.

That being said, he provides more speed and elusiveness than Booker (and arguably Freeman) so don’t be surprised if he is used sparingly but highly effectively by our offensive brain trust. Additionally he has been sidelined for OTAs with an oblique strain that was a result of the car accident that he was involved in, so he is “losing reps” to UDCFA Phillip Lindsay along with the aforementioned Freeman and Booker. I should also mention that the Broncos still have David Williams (6-1, 230 lbs) also on the roster at RB.

Henderson also was “credited” with two fumbles during the preseason last year. A really quick way for a running back or a wide receiver to lose reps is to fumble.


Henderson was asked about his nickname and it all came from an old high school injury.

”It came from high school. I got hurt, and I was supposed to miss six to eight weeks. I looked in my trainer’s eyes and told him he was crazy. I’m not missing six to eight weeks. So I came back and I was hopping around,” Henderson said. “When I got to college, my coach asked if I had a nickname I said, ‘Hop.’ He said it makes sense because I can jump-cut real good, so it took off from college.”

2018 Status

I have no doubt that Henderson will make the roster. He showed enough promise against scrubs in the preseason to be cut. The question for Henderson will be how much work he gets in the fairly crowded backfield and whether or not he can find a niche to fill. Lindsay comes from UC as an extremely accomplished receiver out of the backfield (he finished his college career with 116 catches for 1079 yards and 3 TDs), so Henderson might not be the 3rd down back (although he is 20 lbs heavier than Lindsay).

I would expect the Broncos to keep four running backs on the 53-man roster and I would be surprised if Henderson is not one of those four. Were I to bet, I would wager that Lindsay goes to the practice squad and Williams gets released.


Will De’Angelo Henderson make the final 53-man roster?

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