ENGLEWOOD, Colo -- Though the running backs room at Dove Valley is a little less crowded after the release of veteran Willis McGahee, the club is excited about the talent that remains in the corps.
"I think anytime you pick your team, or begin to pick your team, you're showing faith in those people," Head Coach John Fox said. "I thought Ronnie (Hillman) came on very well last year. I've been impressed by Montee Ball-not that he's there yet by any stretch. And then we've got Knowshon (Moreno), who is also coming off of an injury, who we feel pretty good about."
All three of the backs Fox mentioned spoke with the media after practice, and all three made sure to mention that they're not the only three in competition for the starting spot.
Currently there are seven running backs on the roster with C.J. Anderson, Lance Ball, Jacob Hester and Jeremiah Johnson also on the practice field. In light of that, Hillman said that with just one less back around, the competition hasn't changed much.
"It's always open," Hillman said. "I was competing with Knowshon, Montee, J.J. (Jeremiah Johnson), so there's still a lot of competition. Just because (McGahee) is gone you can't write it in but like I said, I'm just trying to compete and earn more playing time like the rest of them."
Moreno, now the team's leading returning rusher, echoed those sentiments and added that the running backs no longer have to compete with McGahee's 10 years of NFL experience.
The rookie Ball also pointed out that the competition was still intact and his goal hasn't changed. He just wants to earn time on the field.
"For me, that's my goal, it's to play," Ball said. "I'll be a one-two punch. Even if I get in and get two plays, three plays, I'll be happy because I'll be contributing in some way. Obviously, my goal is to be the starter. I'm speaking for every other running back as well. We want that position.
"But for now, it's early, I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing."
The fact remains that there are now more available reps for each of the Broncos' running backs when the players return for training camp in late July. The competition should really heat up as each player tries to prove that his skills are what the team needs when the season starts.
"At the end of the day, running back is a unique position," Fox said. "It's not always the biggest, strongest and fastest and that's why you see guys late in the draft have great success. It's about vision, quick feet, making people miss and it doesn't really matter if you run a 4.3 40 or a 4.6 40 -- it's just having that skill-set."