Updates from Thursday, Aug. 21
Troy Renck of The Denver Post has the latest on Ball's recovery:
Montee Ball participated in practice Wednesday in a limited capacity, continuing to regain strength after an appendectomy.
He won't play Saturday, but his progress suggests he's on track for the season opener. He won't know until he takes that first hit.
"There was no hesitation to return because there was no pain," said Ball, who is going to experiment with playing lighter after losing weight during this process. "I am here to play football, not sit on the sideline."
Updates from Tuesday, Aug. 19
Lindsay Jones of USA Today reported on Montee Ball's return to Broncos practice:
Montee Ball is back for individual drills today, two weeks after his appendectomy. #broncos— Lindsay Jones (@bylindsayhjones) August 19, 2014
Updates from Monday, Aug. 18
Troy Renck of The Denver Post provides a synopsis of Montee Ball discussing his recovery:
Talked to Montee Ball after the game.. Definitely possibility he practices some this week. Making good progress. #Broncos— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) August 18, 2014
Mike Klis of The Denver Post continued:
Montee Ball will visit his doctor Monday in the hope he will be cleared to practice this week.
The Broncos' starting running back missed the previous two weeks to recover from an appendectomy. Even if Ball does receive his doctor's clearance, the Broncos' medical team may not allow him to take contact during practices Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in preparation to play Houston. And he may not play in the Broncos' third preseason game against the Texans.
'But I am hoping so,' he said. 'I'm tired of sitting around.'
Updates from Saturday, Aug. 9
Lindsay Jones of USA Today has the latest on Montee Ball:
Montee Ball is here watching Broncos practice today. #sansappendix— Lindsay Jones (@bylindsayhjones) August 9, 2014
Following practice, Ball and head coach John Fox spoke about the running back's eventual return (via Troy E. Renck of The Denver Post):
Ball couldn't say when he will play, but remains pleased with his progress.
"Right now I am getting healthy and strengthening my core, just listening to my body. Just taking it day-by-day, step-by-step," Ball said. "When you see me back in pads, you will know I am ready."
Playing in the preseason remains the goal, Ball admitted. However, coach John Fox said it's not necessary if the running back needs more time to recover.
"We will play it by ear," Fox said after Saturday's morning practice. "We saw him play plenty a year ago. And we saw him plenty this offseason."
Updates from Thursday, Aug. 7
Mike Klis of The Denver Post reports Montee Ball was released from the hospital following his appendectomy:
Broncos running back Montee Ball was released from a local hospital and was recovering at his Denver-area home Wednesday, two days after undergoing an appendectomy.
The first week after any surgical procedure always is the toughest, and it's uncertain whether Ball will be able to attend the Broncos' preseason opener Thursday night.
There is hope Ball will be able to get a tuneup carry or two in the Broncos' third preseason game, Aug. 23 against the Houston Texans, although that might be ambitious. The Broncos are confident Ball will play in their season opener Sept. 7 against the Indianapolis Colts at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball will likely miss the remainder of the preseason after undergoing an appendectomy Monday.
ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the news, noting that it's likely Ball will be available for Week 1 of the regular season:
Broncos RB Montee Ball will undergo an appendectomy today but is expected to be ready for regular-season opener vs. Colts, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 4, 2014
Ball sent out a message thanking his well-wishers after the news broke:
I appreciate the get well wishes everyone! I will be ok and come back stronger than ever!! #Broncos— Montee Ball (@ballrb28) August 4, 2014
Ball, 23, is heading into his second season in Denver. The former Wisconsin standout rushed for 559 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie, working primarily as the backup to Knowshon Moreno. With Moreno leaving for the Miami Dolphins this offseason, Ball came into camp expected to shoulder a majority of the workload.
Ronnie Hillman will receive a majority of the first-team reps for the remainder of training camp and preseason. Hillman, in his third NFL season, rushed for 218 yards and a touchdown in 2013. He has not started a game in 24 previous appearances. C.J. Anderson will occupy Hillman's second-team role.
Although Ball is expected back for the regular season, his absence from training camp practices could prove critical. Much of his rookie season was spent sitting behind Moreno because the rookie was unable to adequately block for Peyton Manning in the passing game. He received double-digit carries in only three of Denver's first 11 games before becoming more of a focal point down the stretch.
“The first half I was a little shaky in there,” Ball told Arnie Stapleton of The Associated Press, per Madison.com. “I’m man enough to admit that I was making terrible mistakes early on. But it finally came along. Like they say, better late than never. And I took off from there.”
Given the Broncos' expectations in 2014, they better hope Ball's confidence is founded. General manager John Elway pushed his chips to the middle of the table this spring, acquiring high-cost talent to bolster the defense and give the Broncos a more well-rounded outlook. Denver was embarrassed by the Seattle Seahawks in last year's Super Bowl in large part because it could not match up with Seattle's physicality.
Ball, a 5'10" bruiser with a straightforward running style, is expected to bring toughness on the ground to match Manning's aerial attack. The Broncos (+640) head into the preseason as the second favorite to win the Super Bowl behind Seattle (+525), per Odds Shark.
Without Ball in the fold to prove himself as a pass protector, having faith becomes much harder. Patrick Daugherty of Rotoworld highlighted some of the fantasy implications as well:
Montee Ball's appendectomy further complicates an already muddy late first/early second round scene.— Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat) August 4, 2014
It'll be interesting to see how John Fox and Co. decide to divvy up the workload once he gets back into the lineup.
Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.