Former Wisconsin Badgers and current Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball had an appendectomy Monday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported. Ball will miss the remainder of preseason, but the hope is that he will return to the field when Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning faces his old team, the Indianapolis Colts, in the NFL's season-opener Sept. 7.
I appreciate the get well wishes everyone! I will be ok and come back stronger than ever!! #Broncos— Montee Ball (@ballrb28) August 4, 2014
Ball seems likely to start at running back for the Broncos, though preseason is certainly valuable, especially when you're involved with Peyton Manning. Ball's absence allows Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson, among others, to see more action both in practice and game situations.
"You have to understand this offense with the Denver Broncos under Peyton Manning, everything is at the line of scrimmage," ESPN's Mark Schlereth said on "NFL Live" Monday. "You have to be so in tune with your offensive line, with your quarterback from a technique standpoint. That's the struggle for all young backs. ... If you're not in there [at practice] and it's all at the line of scrimmage, it's not a huddle call -- it changes on the fly and that communication aspect in this thing is what gets lost in translation, and that's a tough thing to get back into."
Former NFL head coach Herm Edwards agreed with Schlereth on the show, noting that Ball is losing a lot of ground in terms of further developing his pass protection, an area he has struggled with as a pro.
"These preseason games are important for [the young guys]," Edwards said. "Now, Peyton Manning goes into the season with a guy, again, that hasn't played a lot, hasn't carried the ball a lot, hasn't been back there a lot. So now all of a sudden, that's a concern for Peyton Manning."
During his rookie campaign in 2013, Ball rushed 120 times for 559 yards and four touchdowns, but did suffer two lost fumbles. While he obviously won't be in action, the Broncos will face some of Ball's former UW teammates in every 2014 preseason game, including Thursday vs. the Seattle Seahawks (Russell Wilson, O'Brien Schofield and Mike Taylor; Travis Beckum signed in the offseason, but was cut), Aug. 17 vs. the San Francisco (Chris Borland), Aug. 23 vs. the Houston Texans (J.J. Watt and Garrett Graham) and Aug. 28 vs. the Atlanta Falcons (Pete Konz, Dezman Southward, Gabe Carimi, Jacob Pedersen and Brian Wozniak).