Montee Ball is not Cordarrelle Patterson. Ball's quarterback, Peyton Manning, admitted to USA Today that the rookie running back is being pushed hard in practices to get him up to speed with the playbook and everything it takes to be a productive NFL player.
"We're just kind of going through play, going through games, getting him comfortable hearing audibles at the line of scrimmage," Manning said of Ball. "Because we are going to count on him in a big way this year. He's a rookie, but Coach (John) Fox isn't going to bring him along slowly."
Ronnie Hillman is still getting plenty of carries in OTAs, but Ball was a workhorse in college and is more physically equipped than the smaller, quicker Hillman to take on a full workload. Willis McGahee isn't with the team right now, and Knowshon Moreno is still making his way back from February arthroscopic knee surgery. But Ball and Hillman currently look like locks to be one-two on the Broncos' RB depth chart when the season begins. Ball, as the presumed starter, will have immediate RB2 value.