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Broncos' C.J. Anderson: I know I can be a bell-cow back

C.J. Anderson's new $18 million contract with the Denver Broncos puts him among the upper echelon of running backs.

In the first year of his front-loaded four-year contract, Anderson's $6 million is alongside the likes of Jamaal Charles and Jonathan Stewart in amount earned this season.

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Those players are well-know workhorses. Anderson still has doubters.

"People still think you can't do it," Anderson said this week, via the team's official website. "(That) I can't be the bell-cow back, I can't stay healthy, I'm not going to be able to be productive in the system. There are still things going out there that still keep you motivated and hungry."

Critics point to Anderson's struggles for stretches each of the last two seasons. Early in 2015, Anderson was brutally bad. In the Broncos' first six contests he averaged 2.6 yards per game, didn't have a run longer than 14 yards with zero touchdowns. The caveat to those stats was the running back was shaking off lingering injury.

Down the stretch of the season and into the playoffs there is no denying Anderson was among the best running backs in the NFL -- certainly the best back that never saw more than 15 carries in the regular season.

When healthy, the 25-year-old tailback displays good vision, a quick-cut ability, power between the tackles and burst on the second level. They are all the traits a workhorse runner possesses.

"I think I can do it. I mean, I know I can do it,'' Anderson said of being the bell cow. "It's not like I haven't done it before. I've done it before ... I've got a running backs coach that's not going to let up or let me breathe when it comes to being successful, believe that. He knows just how strong and hardheaded I am to be successful. He's going to be on that, too. We'll get it done.''

Health is a necessary trait of bell cow backs. It's that unknown that warrants trepidation from critics.

With Ronnie Hillman still a free agent the path is currently clear for Anderson to get a shot at being an every-down player. John Elway admitted as much when he matched the offer sheet for Anderson, saying the team has "high expectations for C.J."

"My expectations are higher than his, I promise you that,'' Anderson retorted.

If the back reaches those heights, he'll easily be well worth the $6 million he's earning this season.

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