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Options at running back apparent

Posted Aug 24, 2014

With Montee Ball limited to one series on Saturday night, the running backs that stack up below him on the depth chart shared the remainder of the game and showed great promise.

DENVER -- Montee Ball’s return to the field on Saturday night was the reassurance that fans needed that, despite his absence in practice due to his appendectomy, he can still make plays. While he was only on the field for one drive, with eight total touches, Ball’s presence was felt.

But, as Head Coach John Fox said, “We got him in and out quickly.”

Once he left the game, the Broncos’ ground game didn’t seem to miss a step, even though the job was shared almost equally between four other backs.

A total of 22 rushing attempts were spread amongst five running backs -- with three of them averaging over five yards per carry. The Broncos racked up 127 yards on the ground during the game.

Once Ball resorted to the sideline after the first drive, Ronnie Hillman lined up in the backfield in his place, just like he did during this week’s practices against the Texans.

Hillman said he is taking advantage of the opportunity to play while Ball recovers from his appendectomy.

“I think it’s more of getting your opportunity to do what you’ve got to do,” Hillman said. “I think they did a great job of putting this team together to where even if you’re not playing a lot, you feel like you are comfortable with your surroundings. I think it’s more of just when the opportunity comes.”

He said, going into his third year, the game is different for him than before.

“When you go into year three, it kind of becomes a repetitive thing,” Hillman said. “Second year you get it, but now you’re third year, you see other things, too. It just comes along with maturing and becoming a pro.”

While Hillman sits behind Ball on the depth chart, undrafted rookie Juwan Thompson has made an impression during camp and this week against the Texans and seems to be “becoming a pro” at a rapid pace.

Tonight, he led the backs with 33 yards on four carries. But, his ability to plow through defenders was displayed as Lawrence Sidbury tried to take him down up high and he continued driving downfield.

With the abundance of talent in the backfield, Fox isn’t sure if the team will carry more running backs on the roster this season.

“We will evaluate and we’ll pick the best 53 that we think will give us the best chance to win and because we don’t play with a fullback per say, in fact the kind of guy that plays fullback for us did not play tonight, Virgil Green,” Fox said. “I think it is a good young group and we will have some tough decisions.”

Luckily for Fox, that isn’t a bad problem to have.