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Lance Ball Seizing Opportunities

Posted Jul 16, 2012

As he enters his fourth season in the NFL, Broncos running back Lance Ball is looking to build on his production from a year ago.


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos' perennially potent backfield has been a good fit for running back Lance Ball.

In 2011, the Broncos led the NFL in rushing by a wide margin, piling up 164.5 yards per game as running back Willis McGahee enjoyed one of the best seasons of his nine-year career. Ball had a career year as well, posting career highs in carries, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and receiving touchdowns.

At 5-feet, 9-inches and weighing 215 pounds, Ball’s a stocky back who went undrafted in 2008 after finishing fourth in Maryland Terrapins history with 2,487 career rushing yards.

Ball signed with the St. Louis Rams in 2008 and spent all but one game during his first two seasons in the league as a practice squad player for the Rams, Colts, Titans and Broncos.

“My first couple years I was travelling around a little bit,” Ball said. “I just took it as having fun with it. It’s always a free ride, just going out to play football. I just tried to make the best of my opportunities.”

Ball did exactly that in the only regular-season action of his first two seasons, gaining 83 yards rushing on 13 carries in the Colts' 2008 season finale.

Ball was signed to Denver’s practice squad in late 2009, and served as a valuable contributor in 2010 and 2011, averaging 4.1 yards per carry on 137 rushes. He has also recorded 19 catches for 164 yards and scored a touchdown apiece on the ground and through the air over the past two seasons.

 And he’s been hard at work this offseason, learning everything he can from McGahee.

 “It’s great, watching Willis (McGahee) when I was younger, I always knew who he was and what type of runner he was,” Ball said. “Finally to have him over here and be able to look up to him and take a little bit from him and take a little bit from all the other players, it’s pretty good. It’s always good to have someone in that leadership role that you can feed off of.”

Ball has also enjoyed getting out of the backfield, as he occasionally did throughout OTAs, hauling in passes from quarterback Peyton Manning.

“I think I’m progressively growing to being a little bit more comfortable coming out of the backfield, lining up out wide or in the slot, just becoming more comfortable with that,” Ball said. “I’m getting better throughout our offseason, progressively through OTAs, through minicamp, through right now.

“Being with a guy like Peyton, he’s able to expose some of the things that you’re good at, catching the ball out the backfield, the screen game, just showing another asset that you have,” Ball continued.

Even though the team’s official offseason workouts have concluded, Ball doesn’t plan on spending much time resting between now and the start of training camp.

“I live out here, so starting (June 19), I’ll come back here and get back to work and work out with all the strength coaches,” Ball said.

“Of course I’ll be relaxing a little bit and getting away from football,” he added. “But continuing to progress, study my playbook and work out.”

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