Well, that playing time will come Thursday night as Ball will, albeit with the Broncos reserves against what are expected to be Arizona Cardinals’ reserves on defense, have the chance make his case in the team’s run game.
Ball, who has fallen to No. 4 on the depth chart in recent weeks, and Kapri Bibbs, a running back who spent most of the 2014 season on the Broncos’ practice squad, will split the carries against Arizona. C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman will not play in the game and if Juwan Thompson plays it is expected it would only be a cameo on offense to go with some limited special teams work.
Anderson, Hillman and Thompson have practiced as the top three backs over the last two weeks.
“Montee and Kapri are going to get the bulk of the work in the game,’’ Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. “They both deserve plenty of touches and they should get them coming out of this game, and they will both play special teams a great deal, too. [Ball] needs a bunch of carries and he'll get them on Thursday.’’
Ball has 16 carries combined in the first three preseason games while Bibbs has yet to carry the ball in the preseason. The Broncos project to keep four running backs, in addition to James Casey, who lines up at both fullback and tight end in the team’s offense.
Thompson can also play fullback if needed.
Three running backs are usually in uniform on game day during the regular season, with the fourth running back often in warmup gear as one of the gameday inactives. Last season the Broncos had at least, either because of injuries or lineup decisions – or both – one running back among their gameday inactives.
And in six games the Broncos had two running backs among the gameday inactives.
“When you get your chances, your opportunities, you have to make the most of them,’’ Ball said. “ … All you can do is work and try to be as productive as you can be on every carry.’’