ENGLEWOOD - Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan usually uses one player to take almost all of the carries at tailback. This year three backs —Mike Anderson, Tatum Bell and Ron Dayne — have played well enough in preseason to deserve a shot at some carries in the regular season. Will there be a running back by committee this season? The No. 2 back, Bell, isn’t expecting it. “They don’t really believe in that,” Bell said. “Whoever the guy is, that’s who it’s going to be. Me and Ron got to carry our weight backing him up or on special teams.” Bell didn’t appear frustrated because he didn’t move past Anderson during training camp and is running out of time to move up the depth chart. He is aware of the Broncos’ history and that Shanahan hasn’t really relied on more than one tailback in the regular season. Since Shanahan took over in 1995, the only season the Broncos had two backs get at least 100 carries was 2001. That year Terrell Davis battled injuries and Anderson was featured when he missed games. Davis played in eight games and Anderson didn’t have more than six carries in any of those games. Shanahan said he would have no problem splitting carries between backs this season, however, and would use a committee if the situation called for it. “A lot depends on the last two games and who separates themselves,” Shanahan said. Anderson has rarely come out of a game when the first-team offense has played this preseason. In Denver’s first game, Bell did not play with the starting offense. Denver’s starters played 17 plays in that game, counting penalties. In the second game, Bell was on the field for two of 18 plays, counting penalties, with the No. 1 offense. If history and the rotation this preseason are accurate indicators, Bell will have to outperform Anderson or settle for only a few carries a game when the season starts. “I feel like I can handle the load, but Mike is doing good so that’s what they’re going with right now,” Bell said. “When he steps down or something happens to him or if he slips one day in practice or has a bad week, I’m going to be right there.” There haven’t been any signs that Bell is close to passing Anderson. Bell has been put on kickoff coverage, has taken Anderson’s job as a protector on the punt team, is on the front line of the kickoff return team and is on the punt return team. Anderson played well Saturday against Indianapolis, gaining 39 yards on five carries and 17 yards on two receptions, including a touchdown. Bell had 62 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown. Dayne has performed well in preseason but has been in this position before. Last year he was second in the NFL in rushing yards in the preseason but hardly played with the New York Giants. This year he’s second in the NFL with 143 rushing yards. Dayne is optimistic that he’ll play in the regular season. “Just being out there and getting the chance to play and getting the ball, I’m excited,” Dayne said. Over Denver’s last six games of last season, Reuben Droughns and Bell split time almost equally. Droughns had 81 carries and Bell had 73. However, Bell’s carries were limited because he had a separated shoulder and it’s likely he would have gotten the ball more often had he been healthy because Droughns slumped in the latter part of the season. CONTACT THE WRITER: 476-4891 or email@example.com NEXT Indianapolis at Denver 6:05 p.m., Saturday, CBS, 740 AM/850 AM
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