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Broncos awarded two off waivers, waive Ball, Gradkowski to make room

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --For the third time in the last five seasons, the Broncos changed their 53-man roster less than 24 hours after the post-preseason deadline.

Denver was awarded center James Ferentz and tight end Mitchell Henry off waivers from Houston and Green Bay, respectively. To make room, the Broncos waived center Gino Gradkowski and running back Montee Ball.

Ferentz, an Iowa product who played his college football under his father, Kirk Ferentz, broke into the league as a backup with Houston last year. Henry, a 6-foot-4 undrafted rookie from Western Kentucky, spent the entire offseason and preseason with the Packers. At 245 pounds, he could have some potential in a dual tight end/fullback role, and could become an effective pass-catcher underneath and in the flat.

The waiving of Ball brings a disappointing end to the Broncos stint of their 2013 second-round pick. He opened the 2014 as the starting running back, but tweaked his groin in Week 1, then suffered a more serious groin injury in Week 5 and missed all but one game the rest of the season.

When Ball returned to health, he was behind C.J. Anderson, who seized his opportunity late last year and blossomed into a Pro Bowler. This summer, Ronnie Hillman and Juwan Thompson surged past Ball, who was listed on the fourth team on the depth chart issued Saturday.

Gradkowski joined the Broncos from the Ravens in a trade last spring and worked as the first-team center throughout the offseason and early in training camp. But he lost the starting assignment to Matt Paradis after five days of camp and spent the rest of the summer on the second team. He saw some brief work at guard in practice last week.

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