The rules remain simple, if not ironic: Want to run the ball for the Broncos? You had better be able to pass block.
"Coach E (Eric Studesville) makes it clear our job is to keep them off Peyton," Montee Ball said.
Manning threw the ball 659 times last season. The Broncos' aerial gumbo of audibles and short routes assaults the senses. It also humbles even the best athletes. Ball's breakthrough last summer ended abruptly. He landed on the bench when he couldn't keep Manning upright.
The Broncos believe in Ball, inserting him as the starter after Knowshon Moreno's defection to the Dolphins. Ball possesses NFL-workhorse qualities, including a sturdy frame and a college résumé that included 924 carries and 77 rushing TDs at Wisconsin.
Pass blocking was one of the reasons Moreno emerged as the Broncos main back last year, and it's something the team has to feel comfortable having Ball do this year in order for him to be a stud fantasy RB. The signs are pointing to Ball emerging as that guy. If he does he could end up being a huge value in drafts, even as an early second round pick. But his pass blocking is one thing potential owners need to monitor in camp.