As Denver Broncos running back Juwan Thompson enters his fourth season, there isn’t much he hasn’t seen or done.
That’s a large part of the reason why he hasn’t blinked in the wake of second-year running back Devontae Booker’s injury.
“I mean, it’s more reps for me, more opportunities, but I mean this is going into my fourth year,” Thompson said following Saturday’s morning practice. “I’ve seen a lot. I’ve played multiple positions.”
Even with the injury to Booker, Thompson finds himself in the middle of crowded and experienced running back room at this year’s training camp. Aside from rookie De’Angelo Henderson and second-year fullback Andy Janovich, Thompson has the least amount of experience in the room by the slightest margin.
While veterans Bernard Pierce, Jamaal Charles and Stevan Ridley, all new acquisitions for 2017, may have more overall experience, one thing that Thompson has going for him is his familiarity with offensive system that Mike McCoy brought back with him from San Diego. According to Thompson, Dolphins head coach Adam Gase ran a similar one when he was the Broncos’ offensive coordinator in 2014, Thompson’s rookie season.
“This is what I played in my rookie year, so it’s just getting back in the swing of those things, and just understanding more of the offense because I mean we had a guru here my first year in Peyton [Manning], so now it’s like you really got to step up more because he was so elite with that offense,” Thompson said. “He’s not here, we all got to come together and roll with it.”
Thompson hangs around. He’s found a way to make the team and contribute in all three of his seasons in Denver. He’s played in 38 regular season games, racking up 346 yards and four touchdowns on 80 carries. Along with playing running back, Thompson has played fullback and contributed on special teams as well.
His versatile contributions haven’t gone unnoticed by his head coach. Nor has his consistency.
“Juwan is a guy that’s consistent,” Vance Joseph said after practice. “He plays fullback. He plays
halfback. He catches the ball well. He’s a consistent football player.”
Thompson knows that making it out of a full running back room comes down to one thing.
“Just to take advantage of these opportunities and make plays,” Thompson said.
As long as he keeps making plays, he believes the rest will take care of itself. Even if it means playing defense.
“For me it’s just make plays everywhere I go,” Thompson said. “From special teams to if it’s just one play on offense here and there, I’ve got to make a play. That’s just my thing. I don’t mind playing anywhere, even if I have to play defense, I’ll try my best to make a play. I did it in college. I feel like I can play anywhere that they need me to as long as I’m taught what I’m needed to do, I’m going to get it done.”