With the NFL preseason underway and the regular season quickly approaching, football players all across the country are vying for a final roster spot. Two players working hard to make the cut in Denver are running back Juwan Thompson and defensive end Kenny Anunike. Anunike and Thompson have several things in common: they played together at Duke, both were signed by the Broncos as undrafted free agents and both are making quite the impression in Denver.
Thompson finds himself in the midst of the running back battle. Fortunately for him, he’s making a strong case to be one of the last men standing. He stood out in the Broncos first preseason game against Seattle, accumulating 59 yards on 6 carries. That performance earned Thompson the opportunity to take several first string snaps this week.
According to Brian Evans of DukeReport.com, “Thompson has shown great ability in pass protection and a good understanding of routes, something important when playing with Peyton Manning.” Broncos head coach John Fox acknowledges that Denver had insiders at Duke and so far Thompson looks to be as good as advertised.
Anunike is also making a name for himself within the Denver organization. After sustaining several injuries early in his Duke career, a healthy Anunike racked up 11 sacks his senior year. According to the man himself “I’ve grown so much from my last game in college (at Duke) until now. I feel like I’m a completely different player.”
One of the reasons he may feel that way is due to his off season training in Atlanta. Chip Smith of Chip Smith Performance Systems says Anunike was one of the hardest working players in the CSPS draft class this year and his work is paying off.
Against Seattle, Anunike looked good playing opposite the Seahawks offensive line, recording the most pressures of any one player on the Broncos defense. Not to mention he continues to shine in practice during one-on-one pass rush drills.
Time will tell if one or both of these former Duke players will make the squad, but one thing is for sure, the effort Thompson and Anunike are putting in should make Blue Devil fans proud.