By Keith Cummings
Due to the NFL’s collegiate draft system, examples of home state stars ending up on their local team is rare. So, enter the quirk of Phillip Lindsay; The University of Colorado star slipping through the NFL draft process, and with his mother urging him to turn down other teams, he got to stay at home in Denver.
As fate would play out it has turned out to be a blissful marriage for both Lindsay and the Broncos. While the Broncos got a home-town kid to galvanize their fan base, they also got production to the tune of over 1000 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Lindsay saw his signing with his boyhood team as the sounding of a starting gun, rather than a finish line. He has gone on to be the first undrafted player to ever be voted into the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
After his season ended on Christmas Eve with a wrist ligament injury, the starting gun on his rehab also sounded. The tailback, who gained the nickname the ‘Tasmanian Devil’ with the Colorado Buffaloes, has traversed this injury mountain before.
Lindsay suffered an ACL knee injury in his senior year at high school that almost cost him his scholarship. His family bonds were fused forever with his father who performed rehab sessions that certainly grounded the humble 24-year-old, so much so that he still maintains his basement room in the families’ Colorado home.
True to his humble nature, the South High School product gives credit to the Broncos backroom staff who are all aiding his recovery process, whilst also noting how crucial the facilities and the medical staff’s dedication to bringing him along slowly are in order to protect him.
Lindsay’s mature mentality fits with a player who has been to the depths of rehab and is fully aware of how long and grinding that particular road back can be. Right now, #30, the same number former Bronco great Terrell Davis wore all the way to Canton, has been focused on getting back to being full steam ahead by Bronco training camp.
As Lindsay sits it out, fellow tailbacks Royce Freeman and Devontae Booker have had their chance to stake their claim. While the Broncos believe in Freeman and his ability to progress in year two, Booker has largely underwhelmed thus far in Denver.
New offensive coordinator, Rich Scangarello, comes over from San Francisco in an off-season re-shuffle in an attempt to get the Broncos offense to be a whole lot punchier and dynamic. How he uses his tailbacks will be pivotal to the team’s success.
In order to build on last season, Scangerello can now choose to rotate his backs by using Freeman as the heavy lifter and incorporates Lindsay into the role of an all-purpose breakaway threat.
If Lindsay can see more than last season’s 35 receptions for 241 yards, the new Joe Flacco era could start to become difficult for opposing defences to scheme against.
Lindsay himself has emphasized his determination and confidence in his own abilities which he intends to showcase to his new coaching staff when training camp opens.
This confidence seems focused on gaining their respect and showing his ability to carry the offensive workload. Key to this will be how the Broncos new offense will choose to incorporate Lindsay’s rare skill set and talents, whilst at the same time trying not to burn out his smaller frame.
Perhaps the real question for Scangarello will be: does he believe in, or even risk, using Lindsay in the same manner that the Carolina Panthers have done with fellow Colorado native, Christian McCaffrey? McCaffrey also possesses the same skills as a do-it-all runner and receiver who can handle the collisions of the NFL.
If fully unleashed, Lindsay’s commitment to block, catch and run could see him become a true superstar. Perhaps for the rookie coaching staff, and after back-to-back losing seasons, it would be a foolish move to limit the ‘Tasmanian Devil’.