Before the season, it appeared that either Ronnie Hillman or Montee Ball would emerge as the primary option in the running game for the Broncos.
Through two games, the right answer is neither.
Knowshon Moreno has become the most famous Moreno since Omar (yeah, the Pirates are finally good again), thanks to 121 total rushing yards through two weeks. With 22 carries, Moreno is averaging 5.5 yards per attempt. Ball, a rookie second-rounder, has 40 yards on 20 carries. Hillman, still listed as the starter on the depth chart, has a paltry 18 yards.
For Moreno, it’s a rebirth for a career that never really was fully born. A first-rounder in 2009, Moreno rushed for 947 yards as a rookie. His numbers thereafter dropped until last season, when a knee injury to Willis McGahee gave Moreno a chance, after eight straight games without even making an appearance.
Moreno had a pair of 100-yard games late in the regular season, but the decision to use a second-round pick on Ball this year and a third-round pick on Hillman in 2012 strongly suggested that Knowshon’s time was short.
Instead, he’s seizing the job — and clearly winning the trust of Peyton Manning.
On Sunday, Moreno churned up 93 yards, 70 more than the entire output of the Giants’ running game. As explained by Harvey Araton of the New York Times, Sunday’s showing came in Moreno’s home state, before a throng of family and friends.
“My grandma was here, too,” Moreno said.
Moreno’s grandma will have plenty of opportunities to be proud of Knowshon in the coming weeks. In his fifth season, Moreno could finally be on the way to becoming the guy the franchise thought he was when the Broncos drafted him to be a franchise running back.
While the current regime had nothing to do with drafting Moreno, his presence on the roster demonstrates that some of the best moves a front office can make are to make no moves. At a time when many assumed Moreno would be out of the mix, the Broncos’ patience is paying significant dividends.