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Fox Expecting Improvement from 'Explosive' Hillman

Posted Mar 20, 2013

Head Coach John Fox said RB Ronnie Hillman had a 'great rookie season,' and he expects even more in the back's sophomore campaign.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Broncos have already made a splash this offseason with big-name free agent signings, and the draft is a little more than a month away -- another opportunity to improve the team.

At the NFL owners meetings, Head Coach John Fox said the team is looking to "get better" in every area, and "that includes running back."

But Fox noted that he was pleased with what the club's "pretty large stable" of running backs was able to accomplish last season, particularly Ronnie Hillman, who he said "had a great rookie season."

Hillman entered his rookie campaign as the youngest player in the NFL and finished it with 330 rushing yards and one touchdown, good for third on the team.

In the Broncos' Divisional Round game against Baltimore, he totaled the second-most rushing yards by a Broncos rookie in the postseason with 83 yards on 22 carries. He averaged at least 4 yards per carry in six of his 14 regular-season games played, including four games in which he averaged 5.8 yards or more per carry.

Fox said that type of production, especially toward the end of the season, showed him that Hillman steadily improved as a rookie.

"Our young guy is getting better," Fox said. "We're really pleased with him."

The fact that the team often went to a no-huddle offense made the San Diego State standout's transition to the NFL harder. In a no-huddle offense, Fox explained, there are often 10 play options that could be called at the line.

"It's not like you're calling one play in the huddle and you've got to remember it from there to up there and just run it," Fox said. "(Quarterback Peyton Manning is) probably going to call one of 10 plays and nine of them are going to be passes and they’re exotic protections that are changed right there for a rookie to look at. Our style of offense didn’t help him much."

Still, Fox said that Hillman "finished the season very strong."

He believes that a full year to train, get bigger and stronger and develop a "pro body" will only help Hillman now that the back understands what it takes to play in the NFL.

"Like any first-year player, you have a lot of room for improvement," Fox said. "We’re anticipating that he’ll be much improved and be able to play more extended time.”

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