ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Knowshon Moreno is no longer "No-Show Moreno."
The Denver Broncos’ top draft pick agreed to a five-year, $23 million contract Friday that includes $13 million in guarantees, ending an eight-day holdout.
Moreno, who rushed for 2,734 yards and 30 touchdowns in his two seasons at the University of Georgia, was the 12th overall pick and the first running back selected in the NFL draft in April. He’ll join the Broncos for his first practice Sunday afternoon.
When he does make his delayed debut, Moreno shouldn’t have to worry about catching any grief for missing a dozen training camp practices and a structured scrimmage at Invesco Field. His coach said he holds no grudges and his teammates were excited for him to arrive and add some pop to an offense that has lost some of its razzle and dazzle since Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler was traded to Chicago and receiver Brandon Marshall (leg) went down with an injury early in training camp.
"I understand how this game works," coach Josh McDaniels said Friday while the sides were hashing out the final details of Moreno’s contract. "His representatives are doing what they feel is best for him ... and we’re both trying to do what’s best for Knowshon and get him here as fast as we can."
While Moreno has some catching up to do, McDaniels insisted he hasn’t missed his chance to win the starting tailback job.
"No. I think everybody’s competing. He’s missed 12 practices, so I think ... he’ll earn his role after he gets here, that’s the best way to say it," McDaniels said. Moreno, who joined Herschel Walker as the only Bulldog in school history to post back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, will join a crowded Broncos backfield that includes free agents LaMont Jordan and Correll Buckhalter and second-year holdovers Peyton Hillis and Ryan Torain.
"Once he’s here, we’ll look forward to working with him and working him in and trying to get him as up to speed as we can get him before the first preseason game or the second preseason game or whatever that may be," McDaniels said.
Buckhalter said he welcomes Moreno’s arrival even though it’ll mean fewer carries for everybody.
"It’s another added dimension to our offense," Buckhalter said. "We’re a family in this backfield. We compete with each other, but we’re still a family. We want everything we can in here to help this team win."
"This team needs everyone we can get," Hillis concurred. "He’s going to be a good teammate."
The Broncos needed some good news after their scrimmage Thursday night at Invesco Field, where the largest crowd ever to witness one of their practices — 13,402 — was quick to show its displeasure with new quarterback Kyle Orton over two interceptions in team drills and several bad throws in the two-minute offense.
McDaniels had his quarterback’s back Friday after watching the film, however.
"Kyle did fine yesterday," McDaniels insisted. "Obviously there’s a couple of plays we could have had back, but he made no more mistakes certainly than anybody else did. ... So, I’m not disappointed in anybody for his performance and all of them can get better and Kyle’s certainly in that group."