ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – In Charlotte, John Fox had the only pair of running backs to go over 1,100 yards in the same season in NFL history. They were DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, and they answered to myriad nicknames, most notably “Smash and Dash” and “Double Trouble.”
It’s probably putting too much pressure on Knowshon Moreno and the newly signed Willis McGahee to be that productive of a pair in their first season together, especially considering that McGahee hasn’t broken 1,000 yards in four years and Moreno’s next 1,000-yard season will be his first as a pro.
It’s probably even more of a stretch to give Moreno and McGahee a nickname when they haven’t even practiced together. But that didn’t stop McGahee from trying.
“We’re going to be ‘Stallions and Broncos’ out here doing it,” McGahee offered. “Stallions and Broncos? Are they horses? OK, there you go.”
They can be a solid one-two punch and can provide the Broncos with their most effective running game since Tatum Bell gained 1,025 yards in 2006. That gave the Broncos their 11th 1,000-yard season in 12 years. No Bronco has hit the mark since, making Denver the only AFC club without a 1,000-yard rusher since 2007.
That might not change this year, but it’s almost certain to in the next few years.
“Basically (Fox) is going to run the ball,” McGahee said, “and that’s what I’m looking for, somebody who’s going to run the ball regardless.”
YARDAGE IS LESS LIKELY THAN TOUCHDOWNS to determine McGahee’s success level in Denver. Last season, the Broncos’ leader in rushing touchdowns was quarterback Tim Tebow. While that energized the young passer’s legion of devotees, it’s anything but ideal for building a balanced team.
“If I’m going to be the hammer, I’m going to be the hammer; I don’t have a problem with it,” McGahee said. “But I can do more.”
If he does so, it will go against recent trends regarding 30-year-old running backs, which McGahee becomes this season. With eight seasons in his rear-view mirror, it would seem McGahee is on borrowed time, but he views it differently.
“It’s like what Jay-Z says: ‘30 is the new 20,’” McGahee said. “That’s how I approach it, that’s how I work out in the weight room, and I’m going to continue doing it like that.
“This is a new beginning, a new start.”
Albeit one with an old friend.
NO ONE IN THE BRONCOS’ CAMP knows McGahee better than his position coach, Eric Studesville, who was McGahee’s position coach in Buffalo from 2004-06 — an era that saw three of McGahee’s four best seasons.
What does McGahee bring?
“Experieince. Knowledge. Competition. Professionalism,” Studesville said. “He just watch him out here. He loves football. He loves being around the guys. He loves being on the field and he’s an incredibly competitive guy. I like that aspect he brings to the room.”
And McGahee likes Studesville enough to where the Broncos were an easy pick.
“That was a pretty good sell, then it was all downhill,” McGahee said.
McGahee’s numbers have declined in recent years, but Studesville believes there’s more left.
“We feel like we’re going to be able to get more mileage out of him,” Studesville said.