Burning Question for the Broncos: Will Ronnie Hillman Play?


Sep 23, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman (21) runs with the ball during the first half against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

It has only been five days, and technically not even quite five days if you’re going by the hour, since Ronnie Hillman put the ball on the ground on a sure-fire touchdown drive that could have helped propel the Broncos to victory against the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday night.

Hillman’s mistake wasn’t the only mistake in the game obviously, but it was almost inarguably the most costly. The time in which it happened cost the Broncos a realistic chance of winning the game, and the long flight back to Denver that night couldn’t have been longer for anyone but Hillman.

Despite my knee-jerk reactions to the fumble–or yours, for that matter–Hillman is a talented player who entered the offseason as the Broncos’ projected number one back. He was replaced before the season-opener by Knowshon Moreno, who doesn’t have any fumbles this season so far and leads the league (tied) with eight rushing touchdowns.

It was a complete mystery why the Broncos elected to hand that ball to Ronnie, but we may never know exactly what they were thinking at that point in time.

What we are thinking and wondering now is whether or not Hillman will even be allowed to dress against the Washington Redskins. Rookie tailback C.J. Anderson flashed for the Broncos in the pre-season, and impressed scouts enough that he became the next in a very long line of undrafted players to make the Broncos’ opening day 53-man roster.

Anderson has been eagerly anticipating an opportunity to carry the ball, while Hillman ought to be in the doghouse. No offense meant to Hillman whatsoever, but Montee Ball is currently in the doghouse for fumbling, and Knowshon Moreno went in the same doghouse last year for half the season.

Not only would it not surprise me to see Hillman as a healthy inactive for Sunday’s game against the Redskins, I’d be surprised if he wasn’t inactivated for an extended period of time.

Hillman fumbled in two straight games and none was bigger than his gaffe against the Colts. Peyton Manning and the Broncos can’t trust him, so you may as well see what you have in C.J. Anderson while Hillman takes time to reflect.

This is the ugly side of the business of the NFL, but the Broncos need to make a big step this weekend heading into their bye week. They can’t afford to turn the ball over four times a game, nor can they afford drives to be cut short at the two-yard line because of ball security issues.

I don’t know if Anderson guarantees a non-fumbling running back for the Broncos, but it’d sure be nice to see what he can do because Hillman needs some time to reflect.