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Old 07-08-2010, 11:47 AM   #1
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'Here For a Reason'


http://www.denverbroncos.com/page.ph...&storyID=10224

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A few days after signing onto the Broncos' practice squad in November, Lance Ball got the first indication of his value to Head Coach Josh McDaniels and the organization.

Adding Ball, an undrafted running back who had just joined his fourth team in less than 14 months, wasn't the type of move that garnered league-wide notice. But with the team still fighting for a playoff berth, former running backs coach Bobby Turner delivered a powerful message.

"(Turner) sat me down and said, 'Hey, you're here for a reason. You're not here just to be in a mop-up role. They're actually out here looking at you every practice, so give it all you got,'" Ball said. "He just told me to give 100 percent, so I try to come out here and give my all every practice."

Ball continues to wait for his chance with the Broncos, but when the time comes, he's prepared to leave his mark.

Before April's NFL Draft, McDaniels expressed confidence in Ball and fellow back Bruce Hall, and the team ultimately chose not to use a pick on a running back. Now the Maryland product is competing to show he can take the next step by earning carries in a talented backfield.

"It's kinda rough at first, but I guess I just like to play football," said Ball, who has also been with St. Louis, Indianapolis and Tennessee. "You've just got to roll with the punches and just be ready. It's the NFL, so anything crazy can happen."

Ball's nomadic pro career has helped him develop that attitude. It paid off on Dec. 28, 2008, when Ball saw extensive second half action for the Colts in Week 17. With most of the team's starters resting for the playoffs, Ball finished with 13 carries for 83 yards and added a five-yard catch in the Colts' 23-0 win.

But most of Ball's professional contributions so far have come on the practice field.

Competing on the practice squad, with a chance to mimic some of the game's best running backs to prepare his teammates, allows Ball to showcase his versatility. While Ball, 5-foot-9, 220 pounds, joked he'll never be confused with a speed back like San Diego's Darren Sproles, he's proud of the variety of skills he brings to that role.

He's appreciated the opportunity to learn the playbook and work with some of the league's most proven rushers during his NFL stops, while taking advantage of some of the practice squad's unique opportunities.

"You get to prove to the coaches that you can make the first-team guys look kinda silly when you break a run or make a nice move on a guy," Ball said. "You're always being watched."

That's what gives Ball hope he's found a long-term home in the Mile High City. He expects McDaniels and running backs coach Eric Studesville to give him every opportunity to earn his way onto the active roster when training camp begins at the end of the month.

With eight running backs currently on the squad, Ball will have to earn it. But if he can take advantage, he knows from experience he'll be ready to go.

That confidence stems from a lesson Ball took from his lone NFL regular season appearance: In the NFL, earning the roster spot is difficult, Ball said. Playing the games is fun.

"Once it comes game time, it's all natural instinct -- that's the easy part," Ball said. "Just having that opportunity to go out there and play at INVESCO (Field at Mile High Stadium) would be great."


Sounds like a good kid
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Old 07-08-2010, 01:11 PM   #2
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Cool stuff. I love these offseason stories, despite the fact that it's rare anything comes from them. Still interesting stuff to follow.
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Old 07-08-2010, 02:43 PM   #3
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It will be interesting to see which RB's stick this year. Ball is an interesting prospect, but I might be even more interested in Toney Baker.

Yards are yards, but I love watching Baker's downhill, punishing style. Unfortunately he seems to take as much punishment (through injuries) as he dishes out.

But, i'm pulling for Baker to do well in TC.
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Old 07-08-2010, 03:07 PM   #4
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Old 07-08-2010, 04:21 PM   #5
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I really like Baker as well he punishes people and we've missed that for a while
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Old 07-08-2010, 11:37 PM   #6
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230 pounds? Wow. I know this is a highlight reel but the guy is showing some really, really good body control. He shows good vision, good speed, good power and seems to have situational awareness as well. Now if we can run block...
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Old 07-09-2010, 12:15 AM   #7
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Do i feel another love fest Dixon style? Cant we mourn the loss of Dicky first before jumping to this guy's camp?
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Old 07-09-2010, 02:51 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by cmhargrove View Post
It will be interesting to see which RB's stick this year. Ball is an interesting prospect, but I might be even more interested in Toney Baker.

Yards are yards, but I love watching Baker's downhill, punishing style. Unfortunately he seems to take as much punishment (through injuries) as he dishes out.

But, i'm pulling for Baker to do well in TC.
Me too. If he can just stay healthy, the guy could be a real hammer for us in short yardage and goal line.
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Old 07-09-2010, 05:39 AM   #9
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Would have liked to see this kid running through smaller/tighter gaps, most of those holes he was running through were huge. The one thing I didn't like is that once he hit the hole he was swerving around looking for people to evade. Make your cut and run downhill at top speed. I think he needs some coaching up but will make great camp fodder.
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