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Ball, Hillman Look to Manning

Posted Jun 3, 2013

Young running backs Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman look to QB Peyton Manning for guidance.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - Broncos running backs Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball are getting a lot of reps in practice as Knowshon Moreno recovers from a knee injury and Willis McGahee hasn't been at Dove Valley for the voluntary offseason program.

And Ball and Hillman are trying to make the most of those reps.

"You know, it's a competitive position," Head Coach John Fox said. "We've got some youth there and guys are taking advantage of those reps."

The two young backs, Ball a rookie and Hillman entering his second year, are also taking advantage of the guidance of their veteran quarterback.

Ball said after practice Monday that he's asking Peyton Manning a lot of questions.

"I was just asking him questions before the lift started about a couple plays that happened out here," Ball said. "That's kind of what he told me at first, to ask questions. What he told me is that if you don't, then we expect that you know it, so for me, I'm just firing off a ton of questions right now."

That communication must be helping, because not only did the rookie say that he feels more comfortable, others are taking notice.

"He's better than me, because I had the jitters all last year, every time I got in," Ronnie Hillman said of Ball. "He's adapted a lot faster than me. But you get to a level of comfort and familiarity when you're actually getting reps with the ones. You're not nervous that Peyton is going to yell at you when you mess up."

After playing in 14 games as a rookie last season, Hillman admitted that he's still asking Manning questions, too.

"I still ask questions now, just to be 100 percent sure so I don't mess up," Hillman said. "If you're not sure, you need to ask. When fall camp does come and the game does come, I don't have to rely on him, I just know everything and it just comes as a reaction."

For Ball, he said the biggest thing for him right now is getting an understanding of the ways that Manning changes the play at the line of scrimmage.

That's what the rookie said is the main thing the two have been working on after practice.

"The biggest adjustment from him is all the audibles that he makes because he's capable of - as we all know - changing the play at the line of scrimmage," Ball said. "You've got to know not only what the running back's route is on a play, if he's spread out and empty on a play, he can change the route from the first routes to the second routes.

"So you've got to know basically everyone's route on every play."