January 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball (28) runs the ball against the New England Patriots in the first half of the 2013 AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Montee Ball: 'Peyton creates opportunities for the running backs'

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It’s almost impossible to replicate a historic season, but the Denver Broncos offense could be even better in 2014 than they were in 2013. Losing Eric Decker hurts, but the Broncos got deeper at the wide receiver position by adding Emmanuel Sanders and drafting the athletic Cody Latimer. Decker is significantly better than both wideouts at this stage, but Sanders looks ticketed for personal improvement and a significant statistical uptick, while Latimer is oozing with potential. And of course, TE Julius Thomas is only getting better, and the offensive line could be even more stout this season. But the Broncos biggest improvement on offense will likely come from the running game and not its legendary passing attack.

Second-year running back Montee Ball has been tabbed as a breakout candidate by almost everybody, and he understands that he has a golden opportunity to rack up numbers against soft fronts. Heck, he saw that first-hand last season when Knowshon Moreno ran for over 1,000 yards and when he averaged 4.7 yards per carry on 119 rushes (four TDs as well).

Ball said of running in the Broncos offense, via the Denver Post’s Troy E. Renck, “It’s an ideal situation for me, but I am taking nothing for granted. This is a great offense to play in because the defense always has to respect the pass, and Peyton creates opportunities for the running backs. It’s up to me to make it work to my advantage.”

Moreno is a solid, well-rounded back, but Ball has more natural talent and should prove to be an even better workhorse. As accountable as the final sentence of his quote indicates, Ball will give the Broncos a guy who can move the pile in short-yardage situations, cut smoothly, truck defenders, and make an underrated impact in the passing game. You might not think of Ball as a great pass-catching back, but he did haul in 20 passes last season in limited action and has a golden opportunity to amass targets out of the backfield. As we saw last season, Peyton Manning is more than willing to throw safe passes to his RBs. 1,000 yards seems like an easily achievable total for Ball, who could hit 1,200 with an average of 4.5 yards per carry, though that hinges on whether or not he can get 266 or 267 carries (Moreno had 242, Ball had 119 last year)

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Tags: Denver Broncos Montee Ball Peyton Manning

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