ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --** Montee Ball thought his Monday of work was done after he answered questions from reporters. But then the running back returned to the locker room from the training room, knowing there was still work to do: treatment for the groin strain he suffered Sunday.
That work will continue for the near future as he works his way back. Ball declined to go into the specifics of the injury or his recovery timetable, except to note that he would return in 2014.
"All I can tell you is that when I'm back, there'll be plenty of the season left," he said.
"I'm not worried about coming back," he added later. "I most definitely will be back. It's just that I've got to follow the protocol, which I most definitely will."
The injury happened on what Ball called a "freak accident." It occurred as he stepped outside of Cardinals defensive end Kareem Martin just as Peyton Manning fired a 20-yard pass to Emmanuel Sanders 3:35 into the third quarter. Right tackle Orlando Franklin blocked Martin, and Ball moved over to help.
Check out the best moments captured during the Broncos' win over the Cardinals.
"I was going to throw a little chip, and then I missed, and I kind of stepped on (Martin's) cleat, and then my other cleat slipped," Ball said. "So I kind of did splits a little bit."
Ball added it was the most significant injury he had ever suffered on the football field.
"It was going to happen," he said. "It's 100 percent that you're going to get injured in this sport. It's an unfortunate situation for myself, but it was a great team win against a great opponent."
But for Ball, it was a frustrating moment in a season that has been star-crossed since he underwent an emergency appendectomy on Aug. 4. He returned for the regular season, but has struggled to get going, averaging 3.1 yards per carry. He has dealt with contact from a defender behind the line of scrimmage on 24 of 55 runs so far this season.
"It's a process, another process I have to go through. A healing process," Ball said. "I'm most definitely going to listen to the training staff again, because they took care of me last time I went through something like this. It's an unfortunate situation for me."
But it could have been worse.
"That's why I'm not panicking. I want to use a different word, but the word I can think of is, 'It sucks,'" he said, with a chuckle. "I mean, it does. It's not good for me, but for the team, we have some backs that showed they are capable of stepping up."