CENTENNIAL, COLO. -- When Broncos punt returner Jordan Norwood entered the concussion protocol during the season opener, it caused concern and raised an interesting question: Who is his backup?
Receiver Jordan Taylor received an opportunity, though no return was required. Emmanuel Sanders set a career-high with 17 returns last season. However, he produced 6.1 yards per attempt, well below Denver's 9.8 yard average, which ranked 10th overall.
Looking for additional depth, the Broncos have had cornerback Aqib Talib take practice reps. Talib told Denver7 he catches his shares of punts during the week to stay sharp if needed. Talib is a playmaker. Since 2008, he leads the NFL with eight interception returns for touchdowns.
"I would do it only if we have a three-and-out on defense," Talib joked.
Talib knows he has the moves to make an impact. However, he is also one of the team's most valuable players, an argument that applies to Sanders as well. Still, the idea of Talib running loose in the open field is intriguing, if not novel. Talib owns one career punt return, which came during his rookie season in 2008.
In regard to special teams, coach Joe DeCamillis admitted more is needed from rookie punter Riley Dixon. He was inconsistent in the opener. The Broncos remained strong against kick returns, and DeCamillis said he doesn't want to see the kickoff eliminated, which has been broached in some circles. He sees it as an opportunity for young players without a defined role to make a team and contribute as they improve.
Bell cow back?
C.J. Anderson wants to be the man. He talked with Terrell Davis about carrying a bigger workload this season. Anderson rushed 20 times for 92 yards in the opener, recording a touchdown on the ground and in the passing game. Admitting his mistake, Anderson reported in better shape during training camp so that he would be ready for the opener, not pacing himself. However, his career-high in carries is 179, set in 2014.
"Of course it feels sustainable. It's you guys who said I can't start fast and I was always hurt when I only played through two years of my career. So it's just to prove you guys wrong," Anderson said with a laugh.
Rookie Devontae Booker remains Anderson's backup, but is being challenged for the No. 2 spot by former Colorado State star Kapri Bibbs. Booker fumbled on his first carry last week and missed badly on pass protection that led to an interception.