ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When a sharp pain in his right side roused Montee Ball from his sleep at 2:30 Monday morning, he knew he'd felt something he could not ignore.
"I was like, 'Something is most definitely not going on right in there,' so I went and saw 'Greek (Head Athletic Trainer Steve Antonopulos),' our trainer, got a CT and all that, and I was diagnosed."
Not even half a day later, Ball had his appendix removed -- a procedure that in past decades might have cost him several weeks of practice time, but thanks to the advances of laproscopic surgery, may not cost him more than two weeks of practice. The three surgical incisions are healing rapidly.
"It was a quick procedure, a quick, painless procedure," Ball said. "Obviously, they restricted a lot of my movement early on, but now I feel great, I'm moving around right now."
Although Ball can only watch practice, the team's strength and conditioning staff has plenty to keep Ball busy.
"Right now, it's just walking and strengthening up my core and all that stuff," Ball said. "Just listening to my body and taking it day by day and step by step."
Ball said there is "no reason to rush" his recovery, but added that he feels "great," and he expects to begin running "next week." The long-term target remains being available for the regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts Sept. 7.
While convalescing at a local hospital, Ball received visits from Antonopulos, Running Backs Coach Eric Studesville and team President/CEO Joe Ellis. Others texted or called, including Head Coach John Fox.
But the visit from Ellis stood out.
"I was sleeping, and all of a sudden, someone knocked on the door, and he walked through," Ball said.
Ellis didn't have any flowers, just some "wise words that I needed to hear."
"He just said, 'We're praying for you, (and) we're all looking out for you,'" Ball recalled. "That's what helped me out a lot: he said, 'If you need anything, you know where I'm at, you have my number and all that stuff, reach out and call me.' He said he'd do anything I need."
Meanwhile, the competition at his position continues apace, with the depth bolstered by solid performances from Ronnie Hillman, Juwan Thompson and Kapri Bibbs in the 21-16 win over Seattle on Thursday.
"The running backs are looking great. The competition is most definitely there," Ball said. "They're most definitely making me work for that spot."