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Broncos bracing for major groin injury to Montee Ball

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Denver's high-octane offense is preparing for the loss of its so-called bell-cow back.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that the Broncos expect Montee Ball to miss time with a major groin injury suffered in Sunday's win over the Arizona Cardinals, per a team source. John Fox confirmed it's a groin problem for Ball at Monday's news conference. 

Translation: Ball won't be back any time soon.

In his absence, Ronnie Hillman steps into the lead role ahead of undrafted rookie Juwan Thompson and second-year runner C.J. Anderson. Hillman looked better on Sunday than Ball has at any time all season, racking up 64 yards at 4.3 yards per carry.

"When (Hillman) has the ball in his hands, he can make the one cut and burst for that 12- or 15-yard gain," quarterback Peyton Manning said after the win, per The Denver Post. "It's just a matter of Ronnie being consistent."

On Thompson, Peyton opined: "The game's not too big for him."

We haven't been blown away by Ball's handiwork this autumn. His loss hurts the Broncos, but with Hillman and Thompson on the field together against the Cardinals, Denver threw for 194 yards and ran for 88 over the final two quarters. That balance kept Arizona honest against the run, helping Manning to pile up an outrageous 476 passing yards on the afternoon.

As we agreed on Sunday night's podcast, with or without Ball, the Broncos remain the team to beat in a topsy-turvy AFC.

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