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C.J. Anderson gives Broncos reason to cheer, even as mom is torn by #Raiders fandom


C.J. Anderson gives #Broncos reason to cheer, even as mom is torn by Raiders fandom
GANNETT Syndication Service  /  USA TODAY Sports

DENVER – C.J. Anderson tucked a white, grass-stained No. 24 jersey under his arm, cradling the souvenir as he made his exit from the Denver Broncos locker room Sunday evening after the Broncos' 16-10 win over the Raiders.

The Marshawn Lynch jersey wasn't heading home with Anderson, however. The running back's final carry of the day was to bring that jersey straight to his mother, Neva Craig, whose loyalties were still torn during the game between her son's team and her hometown Oakland Raiders.

Craig wore an orange Broncos jersey Sunday – under a black Raiders jacket.

"That's just her," Anderson told USA TODAY Sports, adding that he knew his mom was planning to wear the Raiders gear to Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

More: Raiders' offensive woes piling up with Derek Carr ailing, run game disappearing

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Anderson, who is from Vallejo, Calif., just north of Oakland, has been friends with Lynch, the Raiders' hometown star, for years. Like Lynch, Anderson also played running back at the University of California. Their families are friendly, too.

"That's her other son," Anderson said, referring to Lynch.

If Anderson was the little brother in this relationship for so long, it's hard to argue who is the better running back right now.

Anderson rushed for 95 yards on 20 carries – with 40 of those coming on one second-half run. Jamaal Charles added 33 rushing yards on five carries, and Devontae Booker had 14 in his first action of the season.

For Anderson, it was his third game with at least 20 carries this year, with his heavier work load coinciding with the Broncos' three wins. He had just eight rushing attempts in the Broncos' loss to the Buffalo Bills last week.

That's a stark difference from last season, in which he had only two games with 20 carries all of last season, in Weeks 1 and 2, and suffered a season-ending knee injury in mid-October.

Anderson reduced his body fat in the offseason, hoping that getting leaner would not just make him faster, but also help him handle a heavier work load. So far, it is working.

Anderson and the running game, with a surprising boost from Charles, the longtime Kansas City Chief who joined the Broncos in May, has been the bright spot of the Broncos' offense during their 3-1 start. With an average of 143 yards per game, the Broncos are tied for third for the league's best rushing attack through four games.

"We just want to keep that going. Impose our will and control the game we want to," Anderson said.

Follow Lindsay H. Jones on Twitter @bylindsayhjones.

PHOTOS: Best of NFL Week 4

 



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