C.J. Anderson burst onto the scene in 2014 at a time when injuries were piling up in the backfield. Projected preseason starter Montee Ball was out and Ronnie Hillman was banged up and struggling as the main back.

Then the second year, undrafted bowling ball out of the University of California-Berkeley got his shot. Anderson, who barely made the roster the year before, exploded for 929 yards with a 4.5 per carry average all the way to the Pro Bowl. Despite his great success in the second half of last season, Anderson was his humble self when he spoke about the new team Monday.

When asked if his 2014-15 season built up some needed confidence Anderson was quick to return to his familiar mindset since he has been a professional.

“Nothing is handed to you. I know that I have to go out and grind every day and work every day, put my hard hat on and bring my lunch pail. Our running back room is very talented as you guys got to see last year. It doesn’t matter who is behind me, we’re going to do what the team thinks is best. If that’s me, than that’s great.”

Anderson has plenty to be confident about and the biggest reason is the assurance that he will enter mini camp as the starting running back. Gary Kubiak made that clear weeks ago but Anderson understands that in order to stay at the front of the pack he needs to learn his coaches’ system.
Anderson has been studying tape of Kubiak’s most recent running backs, Justin Forsett and Arian Foster and described Monday what he sees in the zone-blocking system.

“Just being patient and being real decisive. You can be decisive, make one cut and go. For myself, from what I liked about it from watching Justin and watching Arian when I got a chance, you get your shoulder pads squared and you get your pads down, you get to be the physical back that I like to be.”

Anderson fits the zone-blocking scheme perfectly and has been impressed with Kubiak and his scheme from the get-go.

“I think he’s awesome to be honest. Just his history throughout the league and what he’s done. Not as far as the running backs, just as far as what he’s done offensively, how he’s pushed offensive into success, how plays, you can learn this many plays and we’re going to be this good at it. You look at it from that point, you know he has the smarts and I guess you can say the passion,” Anderson said with emphasis.

Anderson went on to say that the Pro Bowl was not only an honor but an opportunity to talk with some of the NFL’s best. He got a tip on the importance of first impressions from Jason Witten but more importantly he has spoken with Forsett several times since then. While Kubiak and the coaching staff have been moving everyone along, Anderson admitted that getting tips from Forsett has been the best way to learn the system so far.

“We talked for a long time. We did at the Pro Bowl and he gave me some cues. He called me maybe two weeks ago just asking me how things are going. The questions I had, he helped me out with it. Coaches to players—‘Studes’ (Running backs coach Eric Studesville) is learning differently compared to how I’m learning; we’re all learning in a different way. When you hear it and you see it from player-to-player it kind of made a little more sense.”

In the NFL many players have inflated egos from the beginning, while others gain theirs from big statistical seasons or contracts. Anderson appears to be neither. His confidence cannot be confused with arrogance when you speak with him. Talking for the first time since his breakout season, he appears to be the same player that every NFL team foolishly passed on in the draft. It is a source of motivation that he will clearly always use.

“I always had confidence in my ability and what I can do. The fact that I was still undrafted, there are a lot of backs out there that were picked before me (and that) will always be my hunger.”

Kubiak and Anderson should be a great combination in 2015 and in order for them to win games they will have to be. The system that Anderson is so excited to learn will lean heavily on his legs and if all goes as planned he will be back at another Pro Bowl. However, that trip to Hawaii is not on his radar. When asked about personal goals for the season. Maybe a 1,800 yard season or a 5-yard per carry average would be a likely answer. Nope, Anderson stayed true to his “team first” approach and said clearly and unequivocally what is one personal goal is.

“Win the Super Bowl.”

More than in any recent Broncos season, Anderson will be more personally responsible for that outcome then he may realize.

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