DAVIE, Fla. -- One of the most watched YouTube videos from last NFL season featured then Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno with tears running down his face while praying during the national anthem before a December game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
But on Wednesday, Moreno, who is listed as the Miami Dolphin's fourth-string running back but is expected to battle incumbent Lamar Miller for the starting job, was all smiles after participating in his first practice since undergoing arthroscopic right knee surgery in late June.
"It feels good to put the pads on and work with the guys,'' said Moreno, who recently turned 27. "I've been getting a lot of mental reps. Now I've just got to put these things together.
"Today was testing it out and seeing how it feels. I feel good what I did today ... Now the next couple of days I'll just progress and do more and more each day.''
Moreno was taken off the Physically Unable to Perform list and placed on the active roster. It's unlikely that Moreno, who was very limited in practice, will play in the preseason opener Friday night against the Atlanta Falcons, leaving the rushing chores to Mike Gillislee, Damien Williams and Orleans Darkwa.
"This was his first practice out here today, so I don't know if it would be a wise coaching decision 1/8with3/8 a guy like that 1/8who3/8 really hasn't participated to throw him in a game yet, but I'm not revealing any inside secrets,'' Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said.
Moreno said he is not worried about where he appears on the team's depth chart.
"I can't really think about the depth chart and things like that," he said. "Wherever the coaches want to me to be, that's where I'll be. I just want to come out here and work."
The 5-foot-11, 218-pound Moreno has clearly slimmed down since sitting out minicamp in the spring. He's coming off a career-best season for the Super Bowl finalist Broncos as he gained 1,038 yards on 4.3 yards-per carry with 60 catches for 548 yards. His 1,586 yards from scrimmage ranked fifth in the NFL, and his 13 touchdowns, 10 rushing, tied him for fifth most.
Moreno, who's known for showing his emotions on and off the field, is the first Bronco to gain more than a 1,000 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving in a season. That speaks volumes on a franchise that has had illustrious running backs such as Floyd Little, Clinton Portis and fellow Bulldog Terrell Davis.
Of course, Moreno benefitted from the Broncos' zone-blocking scheme that regularly churns out 1,000-yard rushers, as well as a Peyton Manning-led offense that set NFL records in points and touchdowns in a season.
Although the Dolphins will run a hybrid zone blocking scheme, Moreno said it was quite different than Denver's. But when your name is Knowshon, a combination of your father's nickname of Knowledge and mother's name, Varashon, then mastering the offense quickly isn't expected to be an obstacle.
"I'm good with the playbook; it's just going out there seeing it full speed versus the defense,'' said Moreno, who signed a one-year deal worth $3 million with $1.25 million guaranteed.
A healthy Moreno is expected to be featured in the Dolphins revamped spread-out offense under offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill will attempt to get the ball out quickly to his speedy backs, who will be put in one-on-one situations against linebackers.
A couple of Moreno's former teammates at Georgia, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and safety Rashad Jones, are excited about him providing a major boost to the Dolphins' 26th-ranked rushing attack.
"He's very energetic, never stops,'' said Jones, who played with Moreno at Georgia in 2007 and '08. "He gets up after every play, big hit or not.
"I think he's the total package, and this will be a big year for him.''
Ellerbe, who broke into the NFL the same year as Moreno in 2009, actually recruited him to come to Georgia.
"Just to see him in pads is a blessing to me,'' Ellerbe said. "He will bring a lot of electricity to the game. He's a fighter, a good player, athletic. I was a fan since college.''
Dolphins left guard Daryn Colledge is also a Moreno booster.
"I think he's just explosive,'' Colledge said. "He's got that Denver experience. He knows what we're trying to do out there, and he knows how to hit the hole. ... If we can get a guy like Knowshon up in the hole, we've got a chance."
Moreno isn't sure how many preseason games he'll play, but he's certainly targeting the season opener against the New England Patriots, a team he gashed for a career-high 224 yards on 37 carries in a 34-31 loss last Nov. 24.
"It would be good to go out there and feel full-speed action, but at the same time I'll be ready whenever it's ready,'' Moreno said.
(c)2014 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services