Montee Ball (groin) returned to practice today, following a hiatus of 4 weeks. He was limited. He has reportedly lost weight, too. He started the season around 224lbs, but is down to 212lbs, which is about what his playing weight was at the University of Wisconsin. He feels more comfortable at this playing weight.
In Ball's absence, Ronnie Hillman has taken the starting running back job for the Denver Broncos and ran with it. He has produced 484 yards of total offense and 4 touchdowns, over the last 4 weeks. Where Ball struggled as the primary back, averaging just 3.1 yards per carry to start the season, Hillman has been a shot in the arm for the Broncos offense.
Ball recently told Jeff Legwold of ESPN Denver that he believes Hillman now deserves to be the starter. But that he fully intends on getting his old job back.
“He should [be the starter]. He definitely should. The run game has been a lot better since he’s been in there. So, I’m not going to sit here and lie to myself. So when I come back, I’m going to contribute as much as possible and try to get that spot back."
A great attitude to have. And he's right. Where the running game failed early in the year with Ball, it has succeeded with Hillman. Ball was limited in practice today and his status for Sunday's game vs the Oakland Raiders is in doubt. The team will monitor Ball's progress through the week and decide closer to game-time if he will suit up.
Wes Welker returned to practice today, as well, after he took a vicious shot in the back from his former teammate, Devin McCourty. Welker left the game vs the New England Patriots, and did not return.
After suffering his 3rd concussion in a 10 month period in the preseason, and being suspended for violating the NFL's performance enhancing drug policy, which cost him 2 games, Welker has struggled to find his groove within the offense.
He was an integral part of the Broncos record setting offensive juggernaut of 2013, which saw them rewrite the record books for the most points scored in a single season (606). With the combination of his injuries and suspension, he hasn't impacted the offense in the same way. The team could choose to sit him vs the Raiders and try to rest him up for the stretch run and playoffs.