ENGLEWOOD • LaMont Jordan didn’t worry when the Denver Broncos drafted Knowshon Moreno with the 12th overall pick of April’s NFL draft.
The veteran tailback kept working. He dropped 20 pounds to get down to 228, the lightest he has been in his career.
He was going to be ready for training camp, which started Friday. He said he owed it to Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, who showed faith in him by “bringing me out here and signing me when I was overweight.” This is Jordan’s ninth training camp, and he said he has never felt this good.
“I know I can be a top back in this league, and I’ve shown it — in spurts,” said Jordan, who has started more than eight games once in his career and gained 1,000 yards that season, in 2005 with Oakland. “That’s because I never prepared, I was never disciplined. Now, I’ve prepared. I’m a lot more disciplined. I’ve still got a ways to go, but I’m off to a great start. Mentally, physically, spiritually — in all aspects of my life I feel pretty good.”
For the moment, things are working out just fine. The trim and focused Jordan was Denver’s starting tailback when camp opened as Moreno continued his contract holdout.
Moreno and linebacker Robert Ayers don’t appear to be on the verge of signing, although McDaniels wants them in camp soon because they were falling behind. The Broncos had only one significant holdout in Mike Shanahan’s 14 years: Tatum Bell in 2004.
Even if Moreno was in camp, Jordan wasn’t going to let it bother him. He remembered when he was a second-round pick in 2001, and the supposed heir apparent to 28-year-old Curtis Martin on the Jets. Martin never relinquished the job, playing five more seasons. Martin had 1,697 yards in 2004 at age 31.
Jordan followed Martin’s lead this offseason.
“Curtis had the most yards of his career when I was his backup, and I got drafted second (round),” Jordan said. “That pushed Curtis harder, and he worked harder.”
Jordan saw an opportunity, and worked his way past Correll Buckhalter in the offseason to lead the depth chart at tailback.
Jordan came from New England, where McDaniels called plays, and he doesn’t think it matters much who the starter is this season. The Patriots used many backs last year. Even though Moreno was a very high pick, Jordan figures the Broncos will use a heavy rotation this year.
“The good thing about this offense is all the running backs are going to have a role,” Jordan said. “We’re going to beat teams differently every week. You saw that last year with New England.”
Denver has the depth for it. Aside from Jordan and Buckhalter, who shared first-team repetitions, Peyton Hillis got some tailback work in one-back sets and Ryan Torain looked very good in the morning practice as he comes off knee surgery. Moreno will join the mix when he signs.
McDaniels liked what he saw on the first day.
“All of our backs are 215 (pounds) or more, so that’s the style of running that we want,” McDaniels said.