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O'HARA: What you see is what you get with C.J. Anderson

By his own description, and the statistics he has produced, C.J. Anderson’s running style is pretty straightforward.

It adds up to something that can make Anderson a valuable addition to the Detroit Lions’ offense.

“It’s just nasty,” Anderson said when asked to describe his style. “It’s downhill. There’s nothing special about it. If it’s four, it’s four. If it’s six, it’s six. If it’s 46, it’s 46.

“It is what it is.”

Anderson is not selling himself short, and he’s not overstating what he has produced in his first six seasons – or what he might get in year seven with the Lions.

What you see is what he gets – yards – as a tough, inside runner who could fit in with returning veterans Kerryon Johnson, Zach Zenner and whoever else ends up on the regular-season roster.

Anderson never averaged less than four yards per carry in his first five seasons with the Denver Broncos. He averaged an even six yards per carry last year in splitting time with two teams. He spent nine games with the Carolina Panthers and two in the regular season with the Los Angeles Rams, plus three in their playoff run to the Super Bowl.

And he had a career-long 46-yard run in his first game with the Rams.

There are a lot of highlight numbers in the playing log Anderson has complied since making the Broncos’ roster as an undrafted free agent from Cal in 2013. They include the following:

Pro Bowl: He made it in 2014, rushing for 849 yards and eight touchdowns, with an average of 4.7 yards per carry.

1,000-yards: He reached that landmark level for running backs once: 1,007 yards while starting all 16 games for the Broncos in the 2017 season that proved to be his last in Denver.

Super Bowls: He has played in three – a loss and win with the Broncos, and a loss last season with the Rams.

One of the strangest periods of his career was the time he spent last season without being on a team.

He began the season with the Panthers and was released after nine games on Nov. 12. He was signed by the Raiders before Game 13 on Dec. 5 but was released six days later before playing a game.

The Rams came calling soon with an offer to help them get through the last two games because of an injury that sidelined star running back Todd Gurley.

Anderson produced immediately. He had 20 carries for 167 yards in a win over the Cardinals, and 23 carries for 132 yards and a TD in a win over the 49ers to close out the regular season and send the Rams into the playoffs as legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

A 13-3 loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl left the Rams short of a championship, but Anderson did his part in helping them make a postseason run. He had 23 carries for 123 yards in the Rams’ win over the Cowboys in the divisional round.

Anderson said he hasn’t questioned why he was without a team for almost a month after being let go by the Panthers.

“I don’t focus on that,” he said. “I’ve been in Pro Bowls. I’ve been in Super Bowls. I’ve got another opportunity (with the Lions). I’m excited about that.”

Anderson said he had a good visit with Lions GM Bob Quinn but left without a contract offer. He also left without any hard feelings because he was treated so well in his visit.

“Bob pretty much told me that he’d come get me during free agency,” Anderson said. “He was a was a man of his word.”

Another selling point in the Lions’ favor in signing Anderson in the offseason was the connection between Anderson and head coach Matt Patricia, and their similar views on football.

“I respect coaching,” Anderson said. “I respect staffs. This is one of the better staffs in the league. I’ve got a lot of respect for Matt."

That flows both ways – player to coach, coach to player.

“I have the utmost respect in the world for him,” Patricia said. “He’s an extremely intelligent player. He does a lot of different things, in the run game especially. Throughout the course of his career he’s proven that he’s a productive back.

“He's a guy that runs the ball extremely hard. He gives us that toughness -- an attitude in the run game we want. He’s also done a lot of pass protection.

“He’s really smart. He studies the game all the time. He’s a football junkie.”

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