This past season, the Denver Broncos missed the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2010. It also ended a stretch of five consecutive AFC West titles for the franchise. The reasons for the 9-7 finish (after a 4-0 start) were numerous. But one issue that proved to be quite costly was the failure to put together a consistent ground attack. The Broncos finished 27th in the NFL in rushing a year ago. However, with some changes along the offensive line as well as the addition of veteran running back Jamaal Charles, could this running game be getting ready for some big things in 2017?

Quite the stretch

Talk about an impressive stretch? From 2012-14, Charles was incredibly productive both as a runner and pass-catcher as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. In 46 regular-season appearances, he carried a combined 750 times for 3,829 yards and 26 scores. He supplemented that with 145 receptions, good for 1,220 yards and 13 touchdowns. It adds up to 5,049 total yards from scrimmage and a combined 39 trips to the opposing end zone.

Of course, things haven’t been the same since. The four-time Pro Bowler was limited to a combined eight games in his final two seasons with the Chiefs. The club released the franchise’s all-time rushing leader this offseason and he latched on with the AFC West rival Denver Broncos.

It should make for an interesting reunion when the teams meet twice during the regular season.

Anything left in the tank?

As previously mentioned, Charles has not seen a lot of action over the past two seasons. Of course, we have also seen the veteran running back bounce back from injury in the past.

You will recall that two games into the 2011 campaign, the former University of Texas star went down with a knee injury at Detroit and was lost for the remainder of the year. He rebounded with three straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons and was named to the Pro Bowl each time. Of course, Charles was a younger man with a lot more tread still on the tire.

He now has over 1,300 carries on his resume.

Of course, he won’t be asked to be the same kind of workhorse with the Denver Broncos. The team’s list of running backs include C.J. Anderson, second-year pro Devontae Booker (who led the team in rushing in ’16), Juwan Thompson, 2017 sixth-round pick De’Angelo Henderson and veteran Bernard Pierce. The latter is attempting a comeback of his own. With this impressive backfield by committee, the team won’t be relying on any one player. It will also enable the Broncos to keep Charles very fresh. And don’t be surprised if he saves his best for his former employer, as well as the division-rival Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers.

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