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Royce Freeman pushing Devontae Booker to be Broncos’ lead back

Michael David Smith

The Broncos’ leading rusher from last season, C.J. Anderson, is now in Carolina. Which leaves an opening for the lead role in Denver this year.

Devontae Booker, who was second on the team in rushing last season, is the presumed favorite. But rookie third-round draft pick Royce Freeman is making a case for himself.

Broncos coach Vance Joseph said Freeman “absolutely” has a chance to be the team’s starting running back this year, according to ESPN.

Freeman is accustomed to being a lead back. He was a four-year starter at Oregon who finished his career with 947 carries for 5,621 yards and 60 touchdowns, plus another 79 catches for 814 yards and four receiving touchdowns.

“I think I showed durability and the ability to be there game in, game out,” Freeman said. “I think I showed at Oregon I can deliver the blow as a runner. I’m excited to compete, and we have a good environment in the running back room. I think we do want to see each other do well.”

Last year Anderson finished with 245 carries for 1,007 yards. The Broncos would be thrilled if Freeman could replace that production.