Broncos running back Montee Ball is already in the catbird seat as the clear-cut starting running back in an elite offense which forces opposing defenses to play on their heels. He's making fantasy owners drool when they think about what could become of him this season. And now he's making strides in one very important area of his game: receiving.
Ball caught 20 passes as a rookie, most of them coming during the season's second half. ESPN's Jeff Legwold writes that Ball is looking better and better as a pass-catcher during OTAs.
"[Ball] has consistently shown he's ready to participate in long-yardage situations as a receiver, even having snared an over-the-shoulder scoring grab or two in red-zone drills," Legwold wrote. "And while the jury remains out in pass protection until they put the full gear on, he's shown better footwork in the workouts and has positioned himself where he needs to be."
Ball caught 59 passes in 49 games during his four years at the University of Wisconsin.
No one is going to suddenly confuse Ball's skills out of the backfield with LaDainian Tomlinson. But at least he's not Alfred Morris in that regard either. He did have five games in which he caught at least three passes last year. C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman are battling to backup Ball. Neither of them are extra-special as receivers, so while Ball was seen coming out of college as a two-down grinder, he could turn into a three-down, multi-talented fantasy treasure if his blocking holds up. Forty receptions is possible even with all of the weapons at Peyton Manning's disposal.