A year makes all the difference. Last August Juwan Thompson was merely a face among the crowd of players at Dove Valley, an undrafted college free agent from Duke University, looking for a spot on the roster.

Flash to one year later and he is a shoe-in for the third spot on the depth chart at running back. Thompson scrapped and clawed his way to a roster spot in 2014 under John Fox and saw significant playing time as a special teamer. He played in 15 regular season games, gaining 272 on 54 carries, scored three touchdowns and gained valuable NFL experience. This season, with some veteran knowledge, has the same goals in mind.

“This year, I’m just taking it with the same mindset. Just go out there and do what I do best, run the ball, pass protect and do special teams most importantly.”

Special teams are an area that Thompson has used his size to set himself apart. He is an imposing 225 pounds and does not shy away from contact. While C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman hold the first and second-string slots tightly, Thompson has just recently overtaken Montee Ball for the third spot. Head coach Gray Kubiak has harped on the importance of special teams in determining who and how many tailbacks he will keep when they trim the roster down to 53 players on Saturday.

“I tell you what, it’s a really good group and they’re all young—all of them. It’ll be interesting. I don’t know. I’ve had three. I’ve had four. One thing about it, if they’re special teams players and stuff, you can always find room for them,” Kubiak said August 7. “You can keep too many if they’re playing on all these special teams and doing other things. We’ll see. It’ll be a good battle. Special teams will probably separate them when it’s all said and done, but they’re all repping and they’re all getting opportunities.”

Ball, the 58th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, has had little experience as a special teams player and his recent rash of injuries has not helped his case this August. He has carried the ball 16 times to Thompson’s 17 in the preseason but has seen his repetitions decrease at the worst time. Against the San Francisco 49ers, Ball followed Anderson, Hillman and Thompson in the game, getting his first snap on the second play of the fourth quarter.

Thompson is not taking the recent events as a victory; conversely he is staying focused on the final preseason game and once again making the team.

“I get my mental reps when I can and get my physical reps when I can. At the same time I can’t focus on where I am on the depth chart because nothing is set in stone,” he said Tuesday.

All four running backs have three or fewer seasons as professionals and Thompson has gained confidence after just one season.

“After you have been through it once there is not much that is going to be different. I just try to pick up on everything faster. I’ve been here for a minute so there is nothing to be overwhelmed about. I just have to go out there and get it done. My second year, I don’t look at it any differently. I just have to go out and work even harder.”

Tuesday Kubiak admitted that Ball and fellow 2014 undrafted college free agent Kapri Bibbs, will get the majority of the carries in the game Thursday against the Arizona Cardinals. That bodes well for Thompson. While he may get some playing time, Kubiak’s statements illuminate the coach’s confidence in Thompson’s game and versatility. Thompson, like last year, is staying quiet, humble and prepared to improve in every facet of his game. It is a quality that earned him a spot in 2014 and appears to have him extremely close to another year donning orange and blue and the number 40.

“My goal is just to get better, get better numbers than last year, make less mistakes than last year, gain more trust than last year and become a better overall player than last year.”


Monday the Broncos traded away veteran tackle, Chris Clark to the Houston Texans for a 2016 draft pick. Additionally, they placed 2015, third-round draft pick, Jeff Heuerman, on injured reserve.

Lastly, they also made their first round of cuts. They waived/released the following players: Tevrin Brandon (CB), Andre Davis (G), Joe Don Duncan (TE), Zac Dysert (QB), Spencer Lanning (P), Ross Madison (S), Jake Murphy (TE), Jeremy Stewart (RB), Chase Vaughn (OLB), Reggie Walker (ILB).

Tuesday afternoon they waived the following three players to get down to the league mandated 75-man roster: Dan Light (TE), Danny Mason (LB), Nathan Palmer (WR).

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