Broncos RB Ball back in pads at practice

Englewood, CO ( – Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball
practiced in a helmet and pads for the first time since suffering a groin
injury last month and said he expects a battle to get his starting job back
from Ronnie Hillman.

Ball was officially limited in practice on Wednesday, according to the

He was hurt during a game against Arizona on Oct. 5 and has been sidelined the
past four weeks while Hillman has seen the bulk of the carries for the AFC
West leaders.

“It’s been tough because you always want to contribute as much as possible and
this is the longest I’ve ever been out in my entire life,” Ball said. “(It’s)
my longest and most serious injury ever but I have to battle through it.”

Ball averaged just 3.1 yards per carry over Denver’s first four games, rushing
for 172 yards and one touchdown.

Hillman has averaged 4.3 yards per carry in six games and has rushed for at
least 100 yards twice since Ball has been out, scoring three touchdowns.

“The running game has been a lot better since he’s been in there, so I’m not
going to sit here and lie to myself,” said Ball. “So when I get back I’m going
to contribute as much as possible and try to get that spot back.”

Ball said he will tell the Broncos when he’s ready to play again.

“I’m going to listen to my body,” he said. “Whenever you guys see me out there
I’ll be a hundred percent.

Broncos linebacker Nate Irving missed practice Wednesday with a knee injury
while safety Quinton Carter (hamstring), tackle Paul Cornick (shoulder) and
tight end Virgil Green (calf) were limited as the Broncos gear up for Sunday’s
game against Oakland.

Linebacker Steven Johnson (ankle), kicker Brandon McManus (groin), running
back Juwan Thompson (knee) and wide receiver Wes Welker (back) were all full
participants in practice.