Montee Ball Not Guaranteed Starter’s Role Upon Return

by Michael Drahota | Posted on Saturday, October 18th, 2014 | 0

Montee Ball

Thought to be headed for a monster season when he took over the starting role from Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball has been on the sidelines since suffering a significant groin injury in the team’s Week 5 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Ball was initially given a timetable of 2-3 weeks to return, but tests recently revealed that his groin muscle was torn off the bone, making 3-4 weeks sound like a more realistic scenario.

When he does return, Ball won’t necessarily step right back into the starter’s role. Ball had looked slow and ineffective this year, rushing 56 times for only 172 yards and one touchdown on the year. By comparison, backup Ronnie Hillman ran for 100 yards on 24 carries against the respected Jets’ defensive front in Week 6.

There’s been talk that Ball hadn’t recovered from an offseason appendectomy, and according to the Denver Post’s Mike Klis, his new injury leaves his status with the team up in the air:

“I don’t think Ball quite recovered from his appendectomy and now his groin strain means it will make it difficult for him to regain his featured-back role this year.

But I do think it’s possible for the Broncos to have a solid running game with Hillman, Thompson and Anderson. Maybe not great. But the great part of this offense is taken care of with Manning and the Thomases, Demaryius and Julius.”

Klis also touched on the fact that the Broncos’ offensive line simply hasn’t been getting a push up front in the running game, allowing opponents to get behind their line with relative ease. But Hillman was able to rush for solid gains against New York, obtaining more than half of the yards Ball had all season in one game.

Despite being faced with an undermanned front designed to prevent the Bronco’s lethal aerial attack, he was faster than Ball, making quicker cuts and hitting the holes in a more precise manner.

If Hillman can’t get the job done on his own, backups Juwan Thompson and C.J. Anderson will be waiting in the wings. Although it’s tough to say that they will be able to produce consistently, the odds are good that collectively they’ll be able to outgain Ball’s anemic pace.

Denver running backs are given one of the best setups in the NFL thanks to quarterback Peyton Manning and his arsenal of weapons. Although they don’t run the ball all that much, teams can’t stack the box against them.

Yet unlike Moreno did last year, Ball was unable to capitalize on that favorable situation. Will it be any different when he returns to the team in a few weeks, or has he squandered a golden opportunity?

About the Author

Both an avid NFL fan and analyst, I’ve been following professional football since the late 1980s. I’m also an avid fantasy football player with several league victories under my belt. Check out my NFL articles on TSM for the latest NFL news, highlights, predictions, and more.

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