Training camp and the preseason bring plenty of questions, including whether and to what extent a given team will divide reps among multiple running backs.
In Denver, Philip Lindsay emerged as the top option a year ago, despite being an updrafted rookie. But that was with a different coaching staff. Now, with Vic Fangio running the show and Rich Scangarello coordinating the offense, Royce Freeman could be a bigger factor.
“I think Royce and Lindsay are perfect complements,” Scangarello told reporters on Sunday. “They kind of remind me of [Falcons running backs] Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman in Atlanta. They have different skill sets. They are both talented in their own way. They are both able to be used with their strengths so that they can be the best they can be. Royce is big, and he is physical in pass protection. That’s a big deal in the NFL — that durability that comes with it. As far as running the football in the scheme, they both can do it. One is just going to do it probably with a little bit more physicality and the other is going to make you miss.”
Still, it’s clear that Scangarello recognizes Lindsay’s unique skillset.
“One of the great things about coming to Denver that really excited me from the day I walked in the door is that there are a very few players in the league like Phillip that have the ability to win in a one-on-one matchup at any time,” Scangarello said. “I think that easiest matchup to create in the NFL is the halfback on a linebacker. That’s what we try to do in this offense a lot, and I think he has that gift and that ability and those traits. Excited to try to do that and try to force defenses to put a DB on him to open up other players.”
Last year, Lindsay had 192 rushing attempts, but Freeman had 130. Still, Lindsay averaged 5.4 yards per attempt, while Freeman was held to 4.0. It remains to be seen how the touches will be divided in 2019, but it’s obvious that Scangarello has faith in both guys, even if he may have a little more in Lindsay.