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Duke in the NFL: Thompson and Anunike Standing Out in Denver

Credit:Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

NFL training camp has just gotten underway, but a couple former Blue Devils have already made a strong impression.

Juwan Thompson and Kenny Anunike both left Duke on a high note following the 2013 season after an ACC Coastal Division championship and a berth in the Chick Fil A Bowl on New Year’s Eve.  Little did they know they would end up as teammates on the next level.  Thompson and Anunike were both signed as undrafted free agents by the Denver Broncos.

Thompson had a successful rookie season in Denver.  He saw the field on special teams, and saw a fair amount of time as a reserve running back.  For the season Thompson tallied 272 yards, averaging 5.0 yards per carry, and scored 3 touchdowns.  He also received plenty of his praise for his blocking ability.  Thompson’s versatility came as no surprise to Duke fans who had seen him in a variety of roles during his time in Durham, including at linebacker.

Kenny Anunike’s rookie season went a little differently, but provided plenty of reason to be excited about his future.  At first considered a long shot to make the Broncos final roster, Anunike had an impressive showing in training camp.  Unfortunately his season was lost to injury in the final preseason game of 2014.  The Broncos did not want to risk losing him to another team and signed him to a contract and placed him on IR, giving them another full year to evaluate his potential place on the team.

A year later both of these former Blue Devils have picked up where they left off and have people taking notice once again.

Juwan Thompson has been an early standout at Broncos training camp and is in the mix for the backup running back job behind CJ Anderson.  Thompson is the biggest of all the running backs currently on the Broncos roster and his style of play as seen as a great fit for new head coach, Gary Kubiak’s style of offense.

The Broncos defensive line took an early hit when it was announced that defensive end Derek Wolfe would miss the first four games of the season.  But when asked who has stepped up and is ready to make an impact in Wolfe’s absense Demarcus Ware said Kenny Anunike.  Anunike is making the most of his opportuninty again in training camp.  Lets hope he can avoid the injury bug in 2015.

Both Thompson and Anunike had a huge impact on the football program at Duke in their time there and appear to be doing them same early in their careers in the Denver.