And while that was indeed the case as both Hillman and Thompson put together high-quality training camps, turns out the Broncos had their eye on a practice squad decision as well. In short, the Broncos wanted the ability to have four running backs on site at their suburban Denver complex.
So, initially the Broncos kept Ball on the 53-man roster, as the team's No. 4 back behind C.J. Anderson, Hillman and Thompson, when the cuts were made Saturday. Kapri Bibbs, a running back whose potential the Broncos believe in and who had spent most of the 2014 season on the team's practice squad, had been waived in the cut to 53 players.
But when Bibbs cleared waivers Sunday and the Broncos were able to bring him back on their practice squad, where he would still be in the meetings and on the practice field with the team every day, that was the tipping point for Ball's departure.
"I would say it had a lot to do with we were able to get Kapri back on our football team," said Broncos coach Gary Kubiak. "It had nothing to do with Montee, you better have four backs in this league, so we went into the weekend that way. I told you guys before (Ball) is a good football player. We were able to get Kapri back, we felt confident in him."
Bibbs, who just turned 22 earlier this year, rushed for 1,741 yards in his only season at Colorado State before going undrafted in 2014. He was signed as an undrafted rookie last year and eventually spent four games on the Broncos' 53-player roster after both Ball and Hillman suffered injuries last season.
He did not get a carry last season before finishing the year on the practice squad. Kubiak has noted Bibbs' progress in the offense throughout the preseason and Bibbs is now in line to be the first option if the Broncos suffer injuries at what is a high-impact position.
It was a telling decision, however, in that Ball, who because of his injury last year was inactive eight times before he eventually went to injured reserve, was eligible for the practice squad as well.
"I think it was pretty obvious from a tight end standpoint we were going to try to improve the depth of our football team," Kubiak said. "(We were) kind of excited that he was out there with our guys watching him … Ferentz, obviously, he's a good young player. He reminds us a lot of (center) Matt (Paradis) … he plays a lot like Matt and all of a sudden he came on the wire. It's a chance we felt like to improve our team."
At that point, with Bibbs, having cleared waivers, became the fourth back as the Broncos added Ferentz and Henry to the roster.
"We wish Montee the best, he did everything we asked of him," Kubiak said.