Today, the Denver Broncos hosted the Houston Texans in a joint-practice series that will run throughout the week, as the two teams ramp up for their preseason throw-down this Saturday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
The big news out of Dove Valley today is the return of first-string running back, Montee Ball. Ball has missed more than a week of practice, and the last two preseason games, following an emergency appendectomy surgery.
The 2nd-year pro out of Wisconsin is primed to have a big year as the featured running back in the NFL’s top offense. With the Broncos choosing not to bring back Knowshon Moreno, the baton has officially been passed to Ball.
The team has full confidence in the former Badger. Down the stretch and into the playoffs last season, Ball was a major contributor and the best pure runner on the roster. He’s looking to continue that trend into 2014.
In practice, Ball was limited to non-contact drills. The team will likely take their time working him back into full contact, as well they should.
In his absence, the Broncos have been able to get some extended looks at their stable of young, unproven running backs. Ronnie Hillman has started the last two preseason games vs the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.
Hillman has looked good running with the ones. He’s running with burst and most importantly, he hasn’t fumbled the ball. It looks as if the 3rd-year pro may have finally turned the corner. He’s had a little growing up to do.
At the very least, I’m 100% confident that Hillman be able to serve as an effective change of pace back. With his quickness, he can make plays in space. That’s an element the Broncos’ offense can exploit on the opposition.
C.J. Anderson has also looked good in limited action. After suffering a concussion in the Broncos’ first preseason matchup with the Seahawks, he was able to nab a TD last Sunday vs the ‘Niners at Levi Stadium.
But the guy who has stolen the show is none other than Juwan Thompson. Against the defending Super Bowl Champions, he carried the ball 6 times, for 59 yards. He’s displayed real power and burst. Once he makes his cut and starts downhill, he’s been able to gash the opposition.
When opposing defenders are going backwards when trying to tackle Thompson, you know that he’s running with power and authority. It’s still early but if the final 53-man roster were announced today, I have no doubt that Thompson’s name would be on it.
Kapri Bibbs has also made an impressive case for the final roster. In both preseason games, he’s rambled off some impressive runs, and even scored a TD.
Brennan Clay and Jerodis Williams have struggled in the few touches they’ve received, respectively. If the team had to choose now, I’d say that Clay and Williams would be shown the door, whereas Bibbs would be given a slot on the practice squad.