Booker 'ready' to battle for Broncos' top RB spot


Devontae Booker is the first to admit he hit a rookie wall in Denver last season.

This time around, the second-year Broncos running back says he feels prepared to win a starting role and run fresh until the end.

"You learn it's different than college, a lot different. In college you're winding down when things really get going (in the NFL). You see good teams and good players start strong, finish strong," Booker said, per ESPN's Jeff Legwold. "... I think everybody's fatigued. As a pro, you have to push through it. That's part of it ... But I feel more ready this time."

Taking over for the injured C.J. Anderson in late-October, Booker posted yards-per-carry totals of 2.84, 2.20 3.17, 3.29 and 1.94 over a five-game stretch. That came behind a messy offensive line, but the rookie visibly wore down.

A fourth-round pick in 2016, Booker said he is finally "100 percent" on the heels of two college knee surgeries that made last offseason all the more challenging. Still, Denver's backfield is a crowded operation.

C.J. Anderson is an early favorite to lead the way in carries, but the Broncos also house big-name free-agent addition Jamaal Charles and sixth-round pick De'Angelo Henderson. New coach Vance Joseph has talked this offseason about using them all, but acknowledged that "[Booker] wants to be the guy."

Instead of peering three months down the road, we're finally just days away from NFL players putting their talents on tape during training camp. Booker hopes coaches will see the difference after he finished 2016 with a less-than-gleaming 3.52 yards per rush.

"I just think it's way different," Booker said. "Before, I felt like I was nervous, just thinking about my assignments, the offense, all of that ... I've told guys my head was spinning all over. I just feel more ready to get to work. It's that thing where the game gets slower and you can play faster, if you know what I mean."