Royce Freeman

Denver Broncos
Running Back #37
Denver Broncos
Running Back #37
Photo: Icon Sportswire

Royce Freeman News

Declines in rough 2020 campaign

Freeman ran for 170 yards on 35 carries and added 81 yards on 12 catches during the 2020 season.

Analysis: Freeman paid dearly in the Broncos' acquisition of Melvin Gordon. Though he averaged 4.9 yards per carry, a full yard above his career average, Freeman seldom garnered many touches with Gordon serving as the bell cow more often than not.  With the exception of Week 13's game against the Saints, in which Freeman took snaps at wildcat quarterback, the Oregon Duck never topped 35 yards in a game and never touched the ball more than nine times in a game. Freeman may still offer value as a third-down back, but -- depending on what the Broncos do in the offseason -- his role is far from guaranteed heading into 2021.

Jan 14, 2021 7:25 PM EST

Picks up three touches

Freeman ran for 21 yards on two carries and added a one-yard catch during Sunday's 32-31 loss to Las Vegas.

Analysis: Freeman set up the Broncos' first touchdown late in the first quarter, rumbling for 20 yards to bring Denver into Las Vegas territory. Still, perhaps still bothered by a nagging hip, Freeman garnered just two touches to Melvin Gordon's 30. The third-year back was often lost in the shuffle this season as Gordon took Freeman's role as the passing-game back. Absent a shake-up in the offseason, a similar role likely awaits in 2021.

Jan 4, 2021 3:58 PM EST

Garners four touches in loss

Freeman caught both of his targets for seven total yards and had two carries for 16 total yards during Sunday's 19-16 loss at the Chargers.

Analysis: Freeman had an opportunity to be RB2 behind Melvin Gordon Sunday after Phillip Lindsay went on injured reserve. It didn't work out that way as Freeman was still visibly bothered by his hip, leaving four touches for rookie LeVante Bellamy. He'll have another opportunity to enjoy an uptick in touches in the season finale against Las Vegas on Sunday. Freeman totaled 26 yards on four touches in Week 10's loss in Las Vegas.

Dec 28, 2020 5:03 PM EST

Ready to play Sunday

Freeman (hip) is active for Sunday's game against the Chargers, Aric DiLalla of the Broncos' official site reports.

Analysis: The 24-year-old was considered questionable with the hip issue but is good to go Sunday. Freeman will serve as the backup to Melvin Gordon with Phillip Lindsay (hip/knee) on injured reserve.

Dec 27, 2020 11:44 AM EST

Questionable for Sunday

Freeman (hip) is questionable for Sunday's game against the Chargers, Aric DiLalla of the Broncos' official site reports.

Analysis: The 24-year-old picked up the hip injury during last week's loss to the Bills, but he'll have a chance to take the field Sunday. Freeman would be in line for an increased workload behind starter Melvin Gordon if available to play this weekend, since Phillip Lindsay (hip/knee) has already been ruled out.

Dec 25, 2020 1:32 PM EST

Practice status improves

Freeman (hip) was listed as a limited practice participant Thursday, Troy Renck of Denver 7 News reports.

Analysis: Freeman sustained a hip injury Saturday during a blowout loss to the Bills, and he was subsequently tagged a DNP for Denver's opening practice session of the week Wednesday. If capable of overcoming the issue to make an appearance Week 16, Freeman would remain without a missed game since the start of last season. Should Freeman be activated against the Chargers and Phillip Lindsay (hip/knee) ruled out, the Oregon product would be in line for an uptick in carries behind Melvin Gordon.

Dec 24, 2020 6:51 PM EST

Misses Wednesday's practice

Freeman (hip) isn't practicing Wednesday, Jeff Legwold of reports.

Analysis: With fellow running back Phillip Lindsay also missing practice Wednesday due to a hip injury, Melvin Gordon is the only running back practicing for Denver. If neither Freeman nor Lindsay progress by Sunday's game against the Chargers, the team will likely opt to promote LeVante Bellamy from the practice squad.

Dec 23, 2020 11:06 AM EST

Injures hip Saturday

Freeman (hip) is questionable to return to Saturday's game against the Bills, Kyle Newman of The Denver Post reports.

Analysis: Freeman was only handling a reserve role with both Melvin Gordon and Philip Lindsay active Saturday, so his absence won't have a huge impact on Denver's offense. However, the Broncos only have three running backs active Saturday, the team will be a bit short on depth if Freeman can't return.

Dec 19, 2020 3:35 PM EST

Takes back seat against Chiefs

Freeman did not register a carry or a target over four offensive snaps during Sunday's 22-16 loss to Kansas City.

Analysis: Phillip Lindsay suited up for Sunday Night Football after coping with a knee issue throughout the practice week, diminishing any potential offensive role for Freeman. The Oregon product is averaging a career-best 4.3 yards per carry this season, but he remains without a touchdown after producing nine combined TDs over his first two years in the league. Freeman also reached at least 130 rush attempts during both 2018 and 2019, and he's on pace to finish far below that mark with just 30 carries over 12 appearances this year.

Dec 8, 2020 4:42 PM EST

Team's leading rusher Week 12

Freeman registered 50 rushing yards on eight carries during Sunday's 31-3 loss to New Orleans.

Analysis: With quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel all unavailable because of COVID-19 concerns, Freeman entered Sunday's contest as the Broncos' No. 2 QB behind Kendall Hinton. Freeman was not asked to throw a pass during the game, though he did line up in the wildcat formation on a handful of occasions. His eight rush attempts versus New Orleans tied a season high, and he could remain the team's No. 2 running back Week 13 against Kansas City after Phillip Lindsay suffered a knee injury during Sunday's loss.

Nov 29, 2020 6:12 PM EST

May see some QB work

Freeman could play at quarterback in Sunday's game against the Saints following news that every Broncos' QB is in COVID-19 protocol, Mike Klis of 9News Denver reports.

Analysis: Freeman is the Broncos' emergency quarterback. The Broncos are also expected to elevate Kendall Vinton from the practice squad. Vinton played some quarterback in college before switching to wide receiver at the start of his junior year at Wake Forest. The Broncos will need to get creative under center, and perhaps Freeman will take snaps in a wildcat formation. He could see a bump in usage as a result, although it's tough to get a grasp on how things will ultimately shake out for the Broncos.

Nov 28, 2020 4:59 PM EST

No touches in Sunday's win

Freeman didn't record a touch in Sunday's 20-13 win over the Dolphins.

Analysis: Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay operated as a true tandem, as Gordon logged 84 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries while Lindsay registered 82 yards on 16 carries. Freeman was left out as a result, playing just four snaps on offense. The workload will be divvied up in a similar manner as long as both Gordon and Lindsay are available moving forward.

Nov 24, 2020 1:32 PM EST

Tallies 26 yards

Freeman ran for 11 yards on two carries and added two catches for 15 yards during Sunday's loss in Las Vegas.

Analysis: Box scores can be deceiving. On the surface, Freeman garnered as many touches Sunday as Phillip Lindsay and produced 24 more yards. In reality, three of Freeman's touches came during Denver's final drive of the game. The junior back remains a solid option in the passing game both as a blocker and receiver, a necessity given Lindsay's struggles in both areas. Sunday was not, however, the beginning of a shift toward more Freeman in Denver's offense. Expect Freeman's work to be limited primarily to third downs Sunday against Miami as his ability to be pick up blitzes should be useful against an aggressive Dolphins defense.

Nov 17, 2020 6:30 AM EST

One offensive snap against Falcons

Freeman did not garner a single rush attempt or target during Sunday's 34-27 loss to the Falcons, fielding one offensive snap and 22 special-teams snaps.

Analysis: The third-year back has gone without an offensive touch in consecutive outings, after collecting 14 combines carries and four receptions over three outings between Weeks 4 and 7. With Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay posing a formidable duo atop Denver's backfield, Freeman's offensive role figures to remain relatively remote in closely contested games. Freeman will slot in as the Broncos' third-string running back heading into a Week 10 matchup against the division rival Raiders.

Nov 10, 2020 5:03 PM EST

No role with healthy RB room

Freeman garnered no offensive snaps during Sunday's 31-30 win against the Chargers.

Analysis: Freeman got involved with 19 snaps as a member of the special-teams group, but he did not have any offensive role as Phillip Lindsay made his return from a concussion. The Oregon product had garnered at least one carry in all six of his appearances entering Week 8, but Lindsay (six rushes) and Melvin Gordon (eight) split the RB workload for Denver in a pass-heavy game script. The Broncos will face an Atlanta defense Sunday that surrendered 147 rushing yards and one rushing score to Carolina on Thursday Night Football.

Nov 3, 2020 5:19 PM EST

17 scrimmage yards against Chiefs

Freeman registered 12 rushing yards on three carries, adding a five-yard reception during Sunday's 43-16 loss to Kansas City.

Analysis: Freeman fielded 18 offensive snaps in Week 7, as Phillip Lindsay was forced to exit late in the second quarter because of a concussion. If Lindsay were forced to sit out Sunday's upcoming matchup against the Chargers' 14th-ranked rush defense, Freeman would once again be inserted into the No. 2 RB role as a complement to Melvin Gordon. Freeman garnered nine offensive touches Week 6 against the Patriots as Gordon sat out with a case of strep throat, meaning he could be in line for a similar workload against Los Angeles if Lindsay is unable to clear concussion protocol.

Oct 27, 2020 4:39 PM EST

Picks up 30 yards

Freeman ran for 26 yards on eight carries and added a four-yard catch during Sunday's 18-12 win over New England.

Analysis: With Melvin Gordon out (illness), Freeman held onto the RB2 job despite Phillip Lindsay's return to the fold. The result was a season-high nine touches. He wasn't able to do much with them. Freeman is a solid pass-protector and receiver, but he should return to the sideline Sunday against Kansas City assuming Gordon's health improves.

Oct 19, 2020 8:18 PM EST

Gains 12 yards

Freeman ran for six. yards on three carries and added two catches for six yards during Thursday's 37-28 win over the Jets.

Analysis: Despite an offensive explosion (by Denver's standards), Freeman was not heavily featured as RB2. Melvin Gordon racked up 25 touches. Freeman remains a solid pass protector and receiver, but it's hard to see his role expanding in the near future as Phillip Lindsay (toe) may well be ready for Week 5's matchup against New England.

Oct 2, 2020 3:08 PM EST

Gains 35 yards

Freeman caught both of his targets for 31 yards and ran for four yards on two carries during Sunday's 28-10 loss to Tampa Bay.

Analysis: Freeman helped convert a third-and-long early in the third quarter with a big 28-yard catch-and-run, Denver's longest play of the game. He otherwise played a small supporting role in a Denver rush offense that could not kick into drive after falling ahead early. His value heading into Thursday's matchup against a middle-of-the-pack Jets rush defense depends on two things. One, the health of Phillip Lindsay (toe). Second, whether Brett Rypien or Jeff Driskel can pass well enough to keep the Broncos' offense balanced and on schedule.

Sep 28, 2020 8:02 PM EST

Quiet day against Steelers

Freeman registered 20 rushing yards on three carries during Sunday's 26-21 loss to Pittsburgh.

Analysis: With Phillip Lindsay (toe) facing a 2-to-4 week absence, Freeman was not plugged into a comparable role against the Steelers. Though we haven't yet seen the Melvin Gordon-Lindsay dynamic fully unveiled because of Lindsay going down part way through the season opener with injury, surely the 2018 Pro Bowl back would have been more involved than Freeman was Sunday. With the Broncos ranking in the lower half of the league in team rush attempts thus far in 2020 (26 carries per game), Freeman's upside is limited as the distant No. 2 to Gordon, especially given his sparse passing-game usage.

Sep 22, 2020 5:34 PM EST

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