One of the most intriguing offseason battles to watch this summer will take place in the Denver Broncos‘ backfield, which is stocked with young runners C.J. Anderson, Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman.

“Who’s going to be the bell cow, who’s going to play every down, who’s going to be the three-down player, they’ve got to sort that out,” coach Gary Kubiak said this week from the NFL Annual Meeting, per the team’s official website.


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It should be noted that the above quote, given during the AFC coaches breakfast, was buried within a heaping helping of praise regarding Anderson.

The 24-year-old flashed a power and speed combo coaches drool over during a brilliant end to last season, in which he carried the load while Peyton Manning battled injuries. Anderson’s style would seem to be custom-made for Kubiak’s zone-blocking, one-cut runner style.

During February’s combine the coach insisted Anderson would have to earn the starting gig. Since then Kubiak appears to have bent a bit, pointing to the third-year pro as the starter entering offseason workouts.

“He made a big jump as a player, and I think he’s earned the right to walk into the offseason program — the OTAs — and line up as our starter,” Kubiak said. “But he’s got to continue to earn it on a daily basis.

“I think he’s shown he has all the ability to be an excellent starter in this league, so we’re really looking forward to working with him.”

We see Hillman playing the change-of-pace role alongside Anderson, with Ball as the third back adding depth at a historically precarious position.

“We’ll give them all a chance and see how it pans out, but C.J. obviously has a good head start on things,” Kubiak said.

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