Montee Ball, Ricky Wagner debut in NFL season opener

Doug Pensinger

Everyone thought running back Montee Ball would be seeing the field more than his former Badgers teammate in the NFL season opener. Who thought Wisconsin's former left tackle would receive more significant playing time, albeit by injury?

Rejoice, football fans. College football began its season last Thursday, while the NFL opened its doors last night in Denver as the hometown Broncos played host to the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Two former Wisconsin Badgers, running back Montee Ball and tackle Ricky Wagner, made their NFL debuts in front of a national television audience (well, except for those in Milwaukee who have Time Warner Cable, which is currently feuding with Milwaukee's NBC affiliate).

Many Wisconsin fans expected and hoped Ball would see the field quite often with future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, but the Ravens' fourth-round draft pick unexpectedly got the nod in the first half:

Reports came in Oher suffered an ankle injury, which put the West Allis, Wis. native on notice against the Broncos' potent pass rush. He held his own in the first series he was inserted, but had troubles against Broncos linebacker Shaun Phillips, giving up sacks during a one-on-one on third down on the Ravens' first drive of the second half, on the last play of the third quarter in another third-down situation and on another one-on-one late in the fourth quarter. Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio also overloaded the right side of the Ravens line in the third quarter, allowing safety David Bruton to disrupt a Joe Flacco throw.

Looking on the bright side of things, and upon review of some limited replays, it did appear Wagner held his own against defensive ends Malik Jackson and Derek Wolfe. It was definitely a baptism-by-fire scenario for the rookie, but an experience he'll learn from. It should be interesting to see Oher's status come Week 2 and if Wagner will get his first NFL start against the Cleveland Browns.

Ball, on the other hand, was used quite sparingly in about a handful of series. He finished the game with eight carries for 24 yards.

Do not read into too much in this first game of the season. Manning had a monster game throwing for 462 yards and seven touchdowns. Ball's still learning schemes and protections weekly, as seen by the miscommunication between him and Manning on a handoff late in the fourth quarter, and the NCAA's all-time leading touchdown scorer will have the ability to show his talents in the Broncos game plans in 2013.

More from Bucky's 5th Quarter:

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Bucky's 5th Quarter

You must be a member of Bucky's 5th Quarter to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bucky's 5th Quarter. You should read them.

Join Bucky's 5th Quarter

You must be a member of Bucky's 5th Quarter to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bucky's 5th Quarter. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker