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Ball's Sights Set on No. 1 Running Back

Posted Aug 26, 2013

Montee Ball said his goal remains to earn the starting running back position, and he hopes his preseason performance and first-team practice reps help that cause.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- So far this preseason, Montee Ball is the team's leading rusher.

Along with Lance Ball, he's one of just two backs to have scored a touchdown through three games -- his came when he powered through Rams linebacker Josh Hull from the 1-yard line Saturday night.

On Monday, he was rewarded with more reps with Peyton Manning and the first-team offense.

“It was good. I’ve been getting reps with them prior to today -- today, I got a little bit more," the rookie 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.”

Among those mistakes, Ball acknowledged, was a missed block against the Seahawks that left Manning vulnerable for a big hit, and a dropped pass Saturday against the Rams when he seemed to be thinking more about the run after the catch than the actual catch.

“It’s the worst feeling as a rookie, seeing a future Hall-of-Famer get hit like that pretty hard," Ball said of his missed block, acknowledging that he "got chewed out" by Running Backs Coach Eric Studesville. "I knew what I messed up on and I most definitely corrected it and it won’t happen again.”

Against the Rams, Ball picked up steam as the game went along. He gained just 3 yards on his first six carries, but racked up 40 on his next eight runs, including his goal-line touchdown.

He said his success has come from a better understanding of what to watch for in film study before the game even starts.

“It’s slowing down for me a lot," Ball said. "At first, they were moving fast for me. Now I’ve been able to watch a lot more film and really, pre-snap, kind of anticipate what Peyton’s going to do. Being able to anticipate it and be ready for it.”

Head Coach John Fox cautioned that Ball's first-team reps came during practice, and that he "wouldn't read too much into anything."

But Ball maintained that his goal is to take hold of the No. 1 running back position, and he hopes his production against the Rams and Monday's practice reps can be used as a "stepping block."

“That’s been my goal ever since I was drafted," the rookie 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.”