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Montee Ball: Ronnie Hillman should start for Broncos

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Montee Ball returned to Denver Broncos practice Wednesday for the first time since suffering a groin injury early last month.

While Ball was sidelined, a struggling rushing attack found its groove with a more explosive Ronnie Hillman.

Although Ball entered the season as the starter, he concedes Hillman has earned the job by averaging 105 yards and a touchdown over the past four games.

"He should (be the starter). He definitely should," Ball conceded Wednesday, via ESPN.com. "The run game has been a lot better since he's been in there. So ... I'm not going to sit here and lie to myself. So when I come back, I'm going to contribute as much as possible and try to get that spot back."

Ball had averaged a paltry 3.1 yards per carry prior to the injury. Realizing he was slow to the hole, he's down 12 pounds from the start of the season.

Coach John Fox noted that Ball "looks good," but the team's medical staff hasn't made a decision on the tailback's status for Sunday's game in Oakland.

"I understand, I completely understand what it is, that it's something you've got to work for, what was taken from me," Ball added. "(Hillman) did a great job taking it from me and I understand what it is. I'm a man and I understand that he's been doing a great job."

The Broncos offense reached its full potential with Hillman as the lead back. If John Fox's history is any indication, Hillman will keep the job as long as he stays healthy, secures the ball and protects his quarterback. If he stumbles for a week or two, Ball is looming as a tandem partner or flat-out replacement.

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