Less than three years ago, Broncos running back C.J. Anderson played a major role in a Super Bowl run. Less than a month ago, Anderson was out of a job.
But Anderson persevered, and it has paid off both for him and for the Rams.
Snatched from the scrap heap on December 18 after a failed workout with the Chiefs and a half-cup of lukewarm Sanka with the Raiders, Anderson has become essentially 1B to Todd Gurley‘s 1A in the L.A. backfield.
“He’s a guy that’s played in big-time games,” coach Sean McVay told reporters after Anderson completed his third 100-yard rushing performance in three games with the Rams. “You know that no moment is too big for him. This is a guy that’s had a big-time role and a Super Bowl champion team. He’s just got a great feel for the game. I think he did a great job again tonight. Was really just impressed with him from the jump –- the way that he was able to come in, I guess it would be about a month ago now, and how quickly he was able to pick things up. Really smart, cerebral player and does a great job putting his pads down, finishing falling forward.”
He’s fallen upward with 167 yards in Week 16 against the Cardinals, 132 yards in Week 17 against the 49ers, and now 123 yards in the divisional round against the Cowboys. The difference this time? Todd Gurley was healthy and effective, but Anderson still made an impact.
“He’s been running his tail off and doing everything right,” quarterback Jared Goff told reporters regarding Anderson. “I think the last two weeks without Todd, he showed what he can do. Then, this week, having both of them is special and it gives you a real dual-threat of backs, and different backs. Todd is obviously what Todd is, in my opinion the best back in the league and can do so many things. Then, C.J. comes in and knows his role and knows what we need him to do and protects and does all that stuff right. It’s just been a really good combo.”
It was a really great combo last night, with both Gurley and Anderson over 100 yards.
So could Anderson envision this when he was unemployed a month ago?
“It’s how you handle things,” Anderson told reporters. “For myself, I just always kept my head down and kept pushing. I always believed in my ability and what I could do. It’s not like I haven’t been in these positions before. It’s not like I haven’t been . . . a 1,000-yard back in this league, a Pro Bowl back in this league. I’ve always found a way to hold my own no matter what. I’d describe it like that.”
We’ll describe it like this: It’s great to see guys who have become overlooked get chances, and to make the most of them. Anderson is, and he’ll get a chance to do it again next Sunday.