C.J. Anderson loves football. During his eight starts last season, there was an almost palpable sense of passion the moment he stepped on the field.

Sure, he didn’t have such a great start to 2014 season, but that’s because Denver’s then pass happy offense didn’t allow for much playing time to prove what he had to offer. In weeks 1-10 he had only 30 carries for 172 yards and no touchdowns. The second half of the season was a different story – one that earned him his first career Pro Bowl nomination. Anderson amassed 757 yards rushing, 246 yards receiving, and nine touchdowns in eight starts, including one playoff game.

This year, Anderson is extremely focused. Not only does he want to be physically ready for the start of the 2015 season, he wants to be “Peyton-like” in his mental readiness.

“I feel like my football IQ has elevated my game. I have learned a lot from Peyton and coach (Eric) Studesville, even (Adam) Gase. If you can be as smart as Peyton, you can keep it going,” Anderson told Mike Klis, 9NEWS Broncos Insider.

Manning is realizing that Anderson is nipping at his heels or rather, his brain.

“C.J., when you talk to him, you think he’s been a 12-year starter, and he’s only started (seven) games,” said Manning.

Anderson is going to be a key player in the Broncos’ upcoming season. According to USA Today, new head coach Gary Kubiak, known for rushing the ball and stretch run plays, believes Anderson is going to be an asset to the new play-action offense the Broncos will be running.

Anderson is even being eyed as a No. 1 overall fantasy football pick. ESPN reports, even with his short history of starts, Anderson has what it takes to be that number one guy.

The Broncos are going to have some adjusting to do with a new head coach however, if more players buckle down like Anderson into the “Peyton-like” mentality and produce results on the field like he does, this season chould be one for the record books.

Sabrina Naccarato, an intern at Mile High Sports and student at MSU-Denver, contributed to this report