Montee Ball returns to practice

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos got another piece of their offense back Tuesday as running back Montee Ball returned to practice, just two weeks after he had an appendectomy.

Ball did not participate in team drills, but took part in some individual work. It was the first time Ball had been on the practice field with the team since having the surgery on Aug. 4. Many with the team had expected Ball to return to practice Tuesday, but he is still a significant question mark for Saturday's game against the Houston Texans.

"Montee is chomping at the bit to get back out there," Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning said. "He's doing everything he can."

Following the appendectomy, Ball was held out of the Broncos' first two preseason games -- wins over the Seattle Seahawks as well as the San Francisco 49ers. At least some of the Broncos' starters are expected to play about a half in Saturday night's preseason game against Houston, but at the moment Ball is not expected to be one of them.

The Broncos' regulars usually do not play in the fourth preseason game, so as it stands right now Ball's next game could very well be the Sept. 7 regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts.

Ball was tabbed as the team's No. 1 back almost as soon as the 2013 season ended. The second-year back, who had 559 yards rushing as a rookie last season, had worked with the starters all through the team's offseason program and into training camp before his appendectomy.

Also Tuesday the Broncos held wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders out of practice once again with a thigh injury. Sanders was held out of practice last Friday, as well, and did not play in Sunday's game against the 49ers.

"We need to get Emmanuel out there practicing," Manning said. " ... Hopefully he can be out there tomorrow."