Broncos RB Montee Ball once again finds himself buried on the depth chart, this time behind C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman in Denver, and he envisions a similar story unfolding.
The Broncos' third-year running back predicts — not smugly but almost sheepishly — that he'll surpass Hillman and unseat Anderson, whose spectacular second half of 2014 earned him a Pro Bowl berth and the Broncos' starting tailback job.
"C.J. deserves the No. 1 spot right now. I'm most definitely going to try to work to get it back. And I believe that I will," Ball told The Associated Press during a break at minicamp this week. "I like coming in and being the underdog, just keeping my head down, my mouth shut and just working."
The clear-cut starter a year ago at this time after rushing for a 4.7-yard average his rookie year, Ball never regained his explosiveness or his starting job after undergoing an emergency appendectomy in August.
Ball blames the three-week layoff for weakening his core, which he believes in turn led to the torn right groin that landed him on injured reserve, limiting him to a paltry 172 yards on 55 carries for a 3.1-yard average and a single TD in 2014.
"I went back out there and it was just all downhill from there because I believe by having a weak core from having the surgery and not being able to work out my core for a good three weeks everything just lost its balance and my groin went out," Ball said. "I'm not blaming anyone because I looked them in the face and said, 'I feel great. I feel 100 percent.'"
Anderson starts the offseason as the starter, and it's his job to lose, but he's one of the riskier running backs currently going in the first three rounds due to his "half-year wonder" status and the presence of Hillman and Ball.