At one point this past preseason, there was talk that rookie Montee Ball would be the Denver Broncos’ go-to running back during the 2013 NFL season. That, however, wasn’t the case in their season opener against the Baltimore Ravens.
The Broncos handed the start to veteran Knowshon Moreno, who many consider to be the most well-rounded running back on the Denver roster. On top of being able to pick up yards on the ground, Moreno is a reliable receiver and pass blocker. Meanwhile, Ball is still seen as a raw pass blocker – not surprising for a rookie.
After Moreno took most of the first half reps, the Broncos began to work Ball and second-year speedster Ronnie Hillman into the running back rotation. As Denver started to wear down the clock in the fourth quarter, Ball took over workhorse duties but struggled to move the chains.
When all was said and done, Ball had amassed 24 yards on eight carries (3 yards per carry) with a long of nine yards. He also racked up 11 yards after contact, but was generally ineffective, especially when it came to picking up first downs.
During one play, Ball went the wrong way, forcing Peyton Manning to make a quick adjustment with the handoff while nearly avoiding a disaster. As a whole, the rookie seemed overwhelmed by his first NFL outing and failed to gain any ground on Moreno. The Broncos’ subpar run blocking didn’t help, though.
It was an interesting debut for Ball, who is clearly the best runner in Denver. Still, his lack of polished pass blocking and inexperience will keep him out of the starting lineup in the immediate future. Until he can fill in some of the gaps in his game, don’t expect to see too much of Ball.
Final Week 1 Grade: C