ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Former coach Mike Shanahan compared him to Terrell Davis, yet Ryan Torain's short and bitter career in Denver ended with more injuries than touchdowns.
The Broncos waived their oft-inured second-year running back on Wednesday after he was diagnosed with a strained knee ligament, the latest in a series of physical setbacks to dog the talented athlete.
A fifth-round pick last year after an injury-plagued career at Arizona State, Torain missed almost all of his rookie season. He broke his left elbow during training camp and played just parts of two games before a season-ending left knee injury sidelined him once again.
After a long rehabilitation, Torain was having a solid training camp but was stuck in the back of a crowded backfield that includes top draft pick Knowshon Moreno, free agents Correll Buckhalter and LaMont Jordan and holdover Peyton Hillis.
"That was really rough for me," Hillis said of Torain's release. "Torain's a great guy and a great person, and a good friend to me. He was the only one left besides me" who was in the Broncos' battered backfield last season. "It's tough to see him go. I really hope he gets picked up somewhere."
Jordan said he was certain the NFL hasn't seen the last of Torain.
"I know R.T. was battling through some things and he's a guy that tries really hard. It's unfortunate that he got released, but I think he's going to wind up somewhere. Once he gets himself together, healthy, I think he's going to wind up on somebody's team and he's going to be good," Jordan said.
"I'm going to miss R.T., but I know that he's going to wind up somewhere and I wish him nothing but the best."
Torain's elbow injury a year ago cast a pall over the Broncos, who went through a bevy of backs on their way to an 8-8 season that cost Shanahan and several players their jobs.
Inactive for the first seven games, Torain made his first and only career start at Cleveland last Nov. 6 and rushed a dozen times for 68 yards and a touchdown in the first half before suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that ended his season.
New coach Josh McDaniels was curt and unsentimental in discussing Torain's release after Wednesday's practice.
"Ryan Torain has been released, that's the update," McDaniels said. "He was waived/injured. ... It wasn't about (him fitting into the team's) plans. It was a roster decision that we made and we're moving on."
The Broncos signed running back Marcus Thomas to take his spot on the 80-man roster.