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Gary Kubiak not interested in giving up on Broncos' struggling run game

Ronnie Hillman had a touchdown against the Lions but the Broncos only rushed for 41 total yards. Tim Fuller/USA TODAY Sports

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos' rushing game is a significant blemish for a 3-0 team, one part stone in the shoe, two parts riddle and an issue that needs a solution.

Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said Monday he has no intention of raising the white flag on the team's balky rushing attack.

"We need to keep battling through it," Kubiak said.

It was supposed to be the given when Kubiak was hired. That of all the things that could happen when the new playbook was installed, none was fueled by history more than what the Broncos' run game would be.

Because when Kubiak was the team's offensive coordinator on Mike Shanahan's staff, the Broncos ran the ball with purpose. No matter who the backs were, no matter who was in the offensive line, they all produced.

Kubiak took the system to Houston and Arian Foster piled up the yardage. In all 15 times in the previous 20 season as an offensive coordinator or head coach, Kubiak's teams had a 1,000-yard rusher and seven times a back topped 1,500 yards.

And the Broncos this season? Three games and 69, 61 and 41 yards rushing. One back, two back, two tight ends, three wide receivers, it hasn't mattered as C.J. Anderson's or Ronnie Hillman's potential breakout year hasn't begun yet.

"We're just struggling to run the ball space-wise," Kubiak said. "We've got to look as coaches too, because we're a lot more one back now than we ever have. So, we've got to look at that. We've got to find them some space."

The Broncos have used a one-back look more than Kubiak has done in past seasons. In large part because the Broncos have stayed in a three-wide receiver set for much of the time.

The Broncos also had two running backs -- Anderson and Juwan Thompson -- leave Sunday's win over the Detroit Lions with injuries. Anderson was evaluated for a concussion and cleared to return to the game as he played the second half following the injury.

Thompson suffered a neck injury and did not return to the game. So, briefly in Sunday's game, Hillman was the lone available back for the Broncos.

"We had a situation going on right there where we basically, any two-back, we were totally taken out of that in the game," Kubiak said. "Because we wanted to do some of that with Juwan. You're sitting there staring at one guy, we actually had to talk about it at halftime, some adjustments if we lost another one."

Following the game Anderson said, "I'm good, I'm good."

"We feel like if we keep working at it, things are going to come," said tight end Owen Daniels. " … We're working through things."

Anderson has also dealt with ankle and toe injuries -- suffered in the season-opening win over the Baltimore Ravens -- and Kubiak said he hopes the Broncos can "keep him on the field consistently."

Toss in that the offensive line starters did not appear together in a game until the season opener as well as attempts to find what works for Manning in the playbook and it is the recipe for at least some struggle.

The Broncos, with Manning having been sacked seven times in the first two games of the season -- the first time in his career he had been sacked seven times in a season's first seven games, were able to slow the Lions' rush a bit.

Manning was sacked once against the Lions and finished with his first 300-yard passing game.

"I can't say it's just one thing and we'll go out there and rush for 250 yards," Kubiak said. "Just keep pounding and get better at a lot of things."