2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Montee Ball moves up in Broncos backfield

By ARNIE STAPLETON - AP Pro Football Writer
    2013-08-26 17:49

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - John Fox swears he hasn't lost confidence in Ronnie Hillman even though the second-year running back has had back-to-back games with fumbles returned for touchdowns.

Still, it was rookie Montee Ball who got most of the work Monday with Denver's starters for the first time all summer.

``It's just practice,'' Fox said. ``I wouldn't read too much into anything. We're evaluating everybody regardless of who gets what reps at what numbers. He's a guy that we want to get touches and we'll go from there.''

Hillman, a second-year speedster from San Diego State who played sparingly last year, bulked up over the winter and was given first crack at winning the starting job.

He fumbled at the goal line in Seattle a week ago, and it was returned 106 yards for the score. A week later, Rams rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree pried the football from his arms after a short catch and returned it 13 yards for a touchdown.

After that, Hillman didn't touch the ball and the snaps were shared by Ball, who set an NCAA record with 83 touchdowns at Wisconsin, and former first-round pick Knowshon Moreno.

Asked if his promotion Monday was due more to what he was doing right or what Hillman had done wrong, Ball said.

``For me, I'm looking at it as what I've done. I've been consistent. Yeah, I've made mistakes, but I've done a great job to not repeat them. That's what I plan to continue to do.''

Both Ball and Hillman want to be the featured back in Denver's offense, but with the way Fox has always divvied up carries in his backfield, it might not matter who's the first running back out of the tunnel on Sept. 5 anyway.

``Whoever we keep we're going to lean on and we'll play and I think our track record says that,'' Fox said.

Ball hasn't been free of blunders either.

He was penalized for covering up the tight end in a formation against St. Louis and also dropped a pass from Peyton Manning because he said he ``smelled the end zone.''

A week earlier, he whiffed on blitzing Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner, who drove Manning into the ground just as he released a 31-yard pass to Julius Thomas.

``It's the worst feeling as a rookie, seeing a future Hall of Famer get hit like that pretty hard,'' Ball said. ``That's not a good thing at all and I most definitely got chewed out about it (by running backs coach Eric Studesville) and I knew I couldn't say a word.''

Despite all his rookie mistakes, Ball said he's ready to start in Week 1.

``Yeah, that's been my goal ever since I was drafted,'' he said. ``That's (everyone's) goal in the running back room, to become the starter. For me, every opportunity thrown at me, I'm going to make sure I take advantage of it.''

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Julius ThomasNov 27 07:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Anthony DavisNov 27 07:23p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared OT Anthony Davis, WR Bruce Ellington, DL Glenn Dorsey, QB Josh X. Johnson, WR Quinton Patton, CB Tramaine Brock, TE Vance McDonald inactive for Week 13.

Arian FosterNov 27 07:12p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) was limited during practice Wednesday, Nov. 27.

Allen BradfordNov 27 07:12p

The Seattle Seahawks have declared LB Allen Bradford, TE Cooper Helfet, CB Jeremy Lane, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, C Max Unger, TE Rashaun Allen, DL Travian Robertson inactive for Week 13.

Jordan CameronNov 27 06:32p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Latavius MurrayNov 27 04:52p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray (concussion) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 27 04:02p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) did not participate in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Tony HillsNov 27 03:22p

The Dallas Cowboys have declared LB Dekoda Watson, OG Donald Hawkins, QB Dustin Vaughan, FS Jeff Heath, DL Joshua Brent, OT Tony Hills, CB Tyler Patmon inactive for Week 13.

Taylor HartNov 27 03:12p

The Philadelphia Eagles have declared OT Dennis Kelly, DB Jaylen Watkins, WR Jeff Maehl, OG Julian Vandervelde, QB Nick Foles, CB Rashad Carmichael, DE Taylor Hart inactive for Week 13.

Jordan ReedNov 27 03:02p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) was limited in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Dwayne AllenNov 27 02:32p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Kyle FullerNov 27 11:32a

Chicago Bears CB Kyle Fuller (knee) will play in the team's Week 13 game against the Detroit Lions. Fuller had been questionable during the week.

Lance BriggsNov 27 11:22a

The Chicago Bears have declared WR Chris X. Williams, LB Darryl Sharpton, OT Eben Britton, DL Jeremiah Ratliff, LB Lance Briggs, CB Terrance Mitchell, DL Trevor Scott inactive for Week Week 13.

Reggie BushNov 27 11:12a

The Detroit Lions have declared QB Kellen Moore, OG Larry Warford, DE Larry Webster, DL Nick Fairley, RB Reggie Bush, OT Riley Reiff, WR Ryan Broyles inactive for Week 13.

Reggie BushNov 27 11:12a

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) is inactive Thursday, Nov. 27, for Week 13.

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Jimmy StatenNov 26 09:43p

The Seattle Seahawks signed free-agent DT Jimmy Staten (Seahawks) to their practice squad Wednesday, Nov. 26. The team also released OT Andrew McDonald from their practice squad.

Marcus ThigpenNov 26 09:03p

The Buffalo Bills claimed WR Marcus Thigpen off waivers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday, Nov. 26. The team also waived DE Bryan Johnson.

Richard GordonNov 26 09:03p

The Tennessee Titans waived TE Richard Gordon Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 26 08:33p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Dwayne AllenNov 26 07:33p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

C. PattersonNov 26 06:23p

Minnesota Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson (knee) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Jerick McKinnonNov 26 06:13p

Minnesota Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (back) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Brandon LaFellNov 26 06:03p

New England Patriots WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder) was limited during practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Jace AmaroNov 26 05:13p

New York Jets TE Jace Amaro (head) is not expected to play in Week 13, because he is going through the concussion protocol.

Reggie BushNov 26 04:53p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle, back) was limited in practice for the third straight day Wednesday, Nov. 26, and is questionable for Week 13 against the Chicago Bears.

Jordan CameronNov 26 04:43p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) remains day-to-day, but the team is looking for him to practice symptom-free this week, according to head coach Mike Pettine.

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