Everyone expects Knowshon Moreno to come in and be the starting running back for the Miami Dolphins this fall.
Everyone but Knowshon Moreno, that is (and probably his competition, too).
Moreno, who signed his one-year, $3 million contract with the Dolphins on Friday, doesn’t feel any sort of entitlement – despite being by far the most accomplished back currently on Miami’s roster.
“[I’m] definitely competing,” Moreno said Friday, shortly after affixing his name to the contract. “Compete and the best man will win. We’ll learn from each other. And the same time, we’ll go out there and compete and do what we have to to help this team win.”
Another 1,000-yard, 60-catch season will go a long way toward accomplishing the latter. Moreno, who reached the Super Bowl with the Broncos this past season, churned out 1,586 yards from scrimmage in 2013 – fifth-most in the NFL. He has appeared in 60 games in his five-year career, starting 45.
Moreno will challenge Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas for the starting job. Second-year back Mike Gillislee is also in the mix.
“He’s a three-down back that can help our team in a lot of different ways,” Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said. “He has the kind of mentality that we want to add to our team.”
But despite that toughness, his first-round draft-pick pedigree and serious 2013 production, the market wasn’t particularly strong for Moreno – a reflection on how the NFL values running backs these days.
Asked which teams he talked to in free agency, Moreno mentioned only the Dolphins. He didn’t draw much interest from the Broncos – with whom he flourished last season playing alongside Peyton Manning.
“You’re going to need running backs in this game,” Moreno said. “You need to pass protect and be an outlet for a quarterback. You have to be versatile in this league.”
Asked about leaving a future Hall of Famer in Manning to play with a still-unproven Ryan Tannehill, Moreno responded: “Every quarterback was in their third year at some time. I’m going to come in and do what I have to do to learn from him.”
The signing was the third major move this offseason to fix a running game that was anemic last season. The Dolphins ranked 26th in rushing offense (90 yards per game) and ran the ball just 35 percent of the time.
But in the past three weeks, they’ve added Branden Albert and Shelley Smith on the offensive line, and now a likely starting running back, too.
Moreno played his college ball at Georgia, where he was a teammate of Dolphins linebacker Dannell Ellerbe.
On Friday, Ellerbe welcomed Moreno to town via Twitter: “Feels great to have my lil bruh @knowshonmoreno back on the same squad with me!!! #congratslilbro”
Added Moreno, who came away impressed with his meeting with Dolphins coach Joe Philbin: “You really want to be surrounded by good people and it’s no different with the Dolphins.”• Chris Clemons, a safety who spent his first five seasons with the Dolphins, has signed a two-year deal with the Houston Texans.