Monday, September 1, 2014, 12:47pm
Running back Ronnie Hillman was limited in the early portion of practice Monday, four days after not accompanying the team on its charter from Dallas because of an undisclosed medical issue.
Hillman paired off with his position groups, but did not participate in the drills. He didn't played last Thursday in the final preseason game. Hillman became ill at some point Thursday.
Hillman was taken to a Dallas-area hospital for treatment and returned to Denver on Sunday, a day later than expected, because he didn’t have proper ID to travel. John Elway said tersely, “It’s a medical issue.”
Running back Ronnie Hillman and cornerback Kayvon Webster fell ill after the preseason game and were held back at a Dallas-area hospital overnight.
Both players participated in the pregame conditioning workout that was reserved for the Broncos' front-line players. Neither Hillman or Webster played in the preseason game. Webster had to be aided out of the locker room.
The Broncos did not disclose the nature of the illness, although the team did confirm Hillman and Webster were taken to a Dallas-area hospital for treatment and evaluation.
Both are expected to rejoin the team this weekend.
It doesn't sound like this is too serious, but it is worth monitoring over the weekend. Hillman is expected to serve as the primary backup to Montee Ball. C.J. Anderson is the next man up.
Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman, who has clawed his way back into good graces after last season’s trek from starter to game-day inactive, did not play and is solidly in the No. 2 running back spot behind Montee Ball.
If Ball were to go down, we would probably see a Hillman/C.J. Anderson RBBC, but Hilliman is Ball's primary backup.
Sunday, August 24, 2014, 1:58pm
While he was only on the field for one drive, with eight total touches, Ball’s presence was felt.
But, as Head Coach John Fox said, “We got him in and out quickly.”
Ronnie Hillman had a good night behind Ball and undrafted rookie Juwan Thompson has made an impression during camp and this week against the Texans and seems to be “becoming a pro” at a rapid pace, the story pointed out. Ball looks like the safe RB1 and it was good to see him get 8 touches in limited time. The Broncos also seem comfortable with their RBs behind Ball.
Friday, August 15, 2014, 6:43pm
Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman appears to be taking advantage of Montee Ball’s absence due to an appendectomy. While practicing up-tempo, he caught a long pass down the right sideline, and on the next play he took the ball down the middle for a big gain.
At this point, Hillman is probably the back to own as Ball's handcuff, though C.J. Anderson is breathing down his neck.
Thursday, August 14, 2014, 10:41pm
Broncos RB C.J. Anderson, who had suffered a concussion in the preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks, was back on the practice field Thursday morning, a week after leaving the Broncos' 21-16 victory. The Broncos will steadily work him back in, but Anderson did take a smattering of snaps with the starting offense while sporting a new type of helmet, similar to what Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker wears. With Montee Ball still working back from an appendectomy, Ronnie Hillman took most of the work with the starters. Anderson and rookie Juwan Thompson also got snaps as well. Asked how he felt Thursday, Anderson said he was sluggish. "I mean, I've been off as far as conditioning. Headache and all that, all that's done. I've got a new helmet. It's brand new, so I'm trying to break it in. Kind of tight at times, but I feel fine and you don't miss a beat."
In Thursday night's Broncos win, RB C.J. Anderson, who had been working as the third back in the team's rotation thus far in training camp, suffered a concussion and will be evaluated under the league's concussion protocol. That means Anderson will miss, at minimum, some practice time this week.
According to the league's protocol, even if a player is symptom-free the following day, he can return only to light exercise on the second and third day following the concussion. He can participate only in the non-contact aspects of practice four days after the game when the injury was suffered.
RB Juwan Thompson, who has worked in practice as the No. 4 back in the rotation, led the Broncos in rushing Thursday night with 59 yards on his six carries, including a 20-yarder that set up a Broncos third-quarter touchdown. The undrafted rookie from Duke had consistently turned heads in camp with his pass protection skills, his ability as a receiver and -- at 225 pounds -- he is the biggest back on the roster, the story says. Thompson will likely see some more work in camp and right now he looks like the backup to Ronnie Hillman. We'll have to keep an eye on Anderson's concussion.
Hillman has shown the big-play potential the offense needs at the position, especially as it looks to improve its impact on runs between the tackles against the bevy of nickel and dime formations used to stop the Broncos' passing game.
With Ball out for most of the preseason after an appendectomy, Hillman continues to run ahead of C.J. Anderson in camp. He appears to be the proper handcuff for Ball at this point.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the second-year running back will undergo an appendectomy Monday that will sideline him for the rest of training camp and the preseason. Ball is expected to be ready for the regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts.
Ball showed considerable promise in the back half of his rookie season and is expected to replace Knowshon Moreno as Denver's primary ball-carrier in 2014. Ball came in at No. 7 on Around The League's "Making The Leap" countdown.
Ball's absence means more touches and first-team looks for the healthy members of the Broncos' backfield. Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson will see most of the work until Ball can return to action. Without any more camp or preseason games, Ball could be eased back into things at least the first week meaning he may not get full snaps in Week 1. He's still expected to emerge as the team's RB1, but now it may take some time. As of now, it doesn't seem like his early second round value should be in too much jeopardy.
During offseason workouts, Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase said the depth chart behind Montee Ball was "wide open." Since the start of training camp, however, Ronnie Hillman has been solidly No. 2 in the rotation. C.J. Anderson has nudged himself back into the No. 3 spot, for now, after losing about 20 pounds and rebounding from a sluggish performance in OTAs and minicamp.
Ball owners will need to pay attention to the battle going on for RB2 duties. It's usually smart to handcuff your RB1, especially when he plays in a potent offense like Denver's.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 12:34pm
Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman has responded after a listless 2013. He’s been a little grittier in pass protection and seems to have learned the sometimes painful lesson that he has to stay on his toes to have a chance to stay in the lineup.
C.J. Anderson, Juwan Thompson and Brennan Clay will hash it out for the other spots. Anderson was sluggish in OTAs and minicamp at 234 pounds. After his performance in those offseason workouts, there were plenty of folks with the team who were not confident he would keep a roster spot at that weight. But he’s about 215 pounds in camp and looks more like the guy who made the roster last seasonas an undrafted rookie.
Hillman seems to be ahead of Anderson at this point, but Anderson looks better than he did in OTAs/minicamp since he lost the extra weight.
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 6:39pm
Given that running back is a crowded position on the Broncos with plenty of youth -- Ronnie Hillman, entering his third season, is the most experienced of the group -- those looking for a spot may want to take a page from Hillman’s work Sunday.
The Broncos didn’t tackle live on special teams, but Hillman returned some kickoffs and showed good burst doing it. And with the kickoff return job wide open, some of the running backs looking for a roster spot may be wise to lobby for their chance to return kicks in the coming weeks.
Saturday, July 26, 2014, 4:33pm
Hillman is battling for carries behind Montee Ball.
Friday, July 18, 2014, 1:32pm
The Broncos kept five at the running back spot as recently as 2012, but this position shapes up to be a quality camp battle and last year’s rookie to make it -- C.J. Anderson -- could certainly hold off this year’s crop. It would certainly be a rarity to have two undrafted rookie running backs make the final 53, but Brennan Clay’s pass-catching ability is intriguing and the 225-pound Juwan Thompson would give the Broncos a bigger back with an understanding of pass protections to go with some special teams ability.
It appears Ronnie Hillman is in the lead to back up Montee Ball.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 10:06am
The bottom line is the Broncos, because of the way they play offense out of a three-wide receiver look much of the time, consistently see lighter formations with as few as six players in the box.
They didn’t always take advantage of that in the run game last season, especially in the red zone, and would like to this time around. That takes an offense that is already the highest scoring in league history and gives it an unnerving ability to close out games or score touchdowns when there isn’t much room for receivers to work.
Also, there is the matter of pass protection and the guy who shows he’s the most consistent will be the guy who gets the third-down snaps or the second-and-long plays as well.
That's how Knowshon Moreno got, and kept, the starting RB job last year for the Broncos. This year, that's expected to be Montee Ball. But the story also pointed to Ronnie Hillman, and the team feels he's the biggest home run threat at the position. Ball is looking like the guy to draft and presents a great value in the second round, but owners may want to make a roster spot for Hillman as well. It appears the Broncos want to take advantage of the running game more this season.
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