St. Croix’s Juwan Thompson Will Be Ready To Play on Sunday Night
Juwan Thompson of St. Croix
DENVER – Juwan Thompson’s recovery from a hamstring injury seems complete.
Thompson practiced fully with the team on Wednesday.
He appears poised to return to action Sunday night at home against the Green Bay Packers, though as long as C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman remain healthy, Thompson’s fantasy value remains limited.
In two of the last three games, Ronnie Hillman has rushed for at least 100 yards. That could be enough for him to supplant C.J. Anderson as the Broncos’ lead running back.
Earlier this month, coach Gary Kubiak called Hillman and Anderson co-starters. He said that after Hillman ran for 103 yards on 11 carries — including a 72-yard touchdown dash — against the Vikings and Anderson gained just 43 yards on the same number of attempts. Then, in a Week 6 win over the Browns, the San Diego State product rushed for 111 yards on 20 tries. Anderson gained 41 yards on his 13 carries.
Mike Klis of 9News reports Hillman saw more reps than usual at Monday’s practice and that Denver plans to make him the No. 1 back. Anderson would serve as a third-down specialist since he’s a reliable receiver and solid in pass protection. That approach would make sense given the strengths each have shown this year.
Anderson made a name for himself in 2014 when he ran for 767 yards and eight touchdowns over the last eight games. But he’s never found a groove this fall, averaging a disappointing 2.7 yards per carry. He’s been most effective as a pass-catcher with 13 receptions for 100 yards.
Hillman, while far from perfect, has averaged 4.9 yards per attempt. The former third-round selection has almost 150 more rushing yards on essentially the same number of carries.
Denver’s running game struggled early in part because of the team’s other offensive deficiencies. Peyton Manning turned the ball over and could not consistently connect on his deep balls. The cracks showed in an offensive line with four new starters, as the two tailbacks often had little room to run.
Though Manning’s performance has not improved — if anything, it’s declined — the O-line is playing better and the running backs should be able to build on their success vs. the Browns.
The Broncos will need everything to click this week when they face the Packers at home. Both squads are unbeaten, and Green Bay is easily the best opponent Denver has faced this fall.
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