Twenty-four hours after making the initial 53-man roster for the Denver Broncos, the team waived running back Montee Ball. The former Wisconsin standout was drafted in the second round by Denver in the 2013 draft and opened the 2014 season as the starting running back. However, after an injury riddled 2014 that only saw Ball getting action in five games and rise of current starter C.J. Anderson, Ball was demoted to the second string running back for the start of the 2015 preseason. Unfortunately, Ball’s luck continued to sour as he struggled mightily, running for 68 yards on 32 carries, averaging only 2.1 yards per carry through his time playing in the preseason. Meanwhile, third string back Ronnie Hillman had a stellar preseason averaging 7.4 yards a carry, impressing the coaching staff of the Broncos and forcing his way into the number two spot on the depth chart behind Anderson.
After the 53-man cut deadline for the NFL on Saturday, Montee Ball landed a spot on the team as the fourth string running back, behind Anderson, Hillman and Juwan Thompson, a hard runner who played well this preseason especially in his multiple special teams roles. However, when the Broncos claimed tight end Mitchell Henry and center James Ferentz, cuts had to be made to keep the roster at 53 and Ball became disposable. With faith in last year’s breakout star C.J. Anderson, the Denver Broncos decided it was time to cut ties.
The Broncos opted to go with the strategy of the “best 53 players” rather than going for a certain number at any given position. This tactic saw Denver hold on to six wide receivers, including rookie Bennie Fowler, who put on a show this preseason to earn himself a spot on the roster. Along with Fowler, quarterback Trevor Siemian played well enough in camp and preseason to get himself the third string spot behind Peyton Manning and backup Brock Osweiler.
Ball shouldn’t be too dismayed however; he would be a solid pick up for a team that needs depth at the running back position. With a little push and the right opportunity, Ball should be back on an NFL roster in a matter of time.