Moreno says hamstring better, ready to contribute

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Knowshon Moreno says his recovery from a pulled right hamstring is going well and he's "ready for whatever the coaches need me to do" Sunday at Jacksonville.

Moreno missed the entire preseason, and his next hit will be his first since his rookie season. He returned to practice late last week but didn't really test it thoroughly until this week.

"It feels good," he said. "It feels good to be out there with my team and start running again, testing the hamstring out. I feel good, so we'll see what happens this weekend."

Moreno, who also missed much of last year's preseason with an injury, said he didn't think he'd be affected by not getting any carries in the preseason.

"I just want to get back out there. Basically, that's what it all really comes down to," Moreno said. "Get back out there, get my wind back, get out there and see how the game is flowing and make the best of it."

Coach Josh McDaniels is expecting big things from Moreno this season.

"I think, again, it is hard to say from practice," McDaniels said, "but I know from the spring everything was so much slower for him -- the defense, the reads, the blitzes, the blitz pickup, the route running -- we felt like he was ahead of everybody else, whereas last year as a rookie, those are things you kind of feel like you've got to catch up to the speed of the game. I think the speed of the game, he definitely had good control on that when he was out there. Certainly missing the last month or so here, obviously, can't help.

"You know, you start where you were, but I think that out there yesterday in practice, he's getting back into the flow, and hopefully the next three days will be the same thing. But I think the overall speed and rhythm of the game has really slowed down for him."

With Moreno and Correll Buckhalter -- who had three carries for 3 yards in the preseason -- missing so much time, Lance Ball, a second-year pro who had been cut four times before he was signed to the Broncos' practice squad last November, capitalized on his carries to earn a roster spot.

Ball, who led the Broncos with 119 yards on 23 preseason carries, called it the "chance of a lifetime" to prove he could play in the NFL.

"I've always had confidence in myself that I could play in this league," said Ball, who has had stops in Indianapolis, St. Louis and Tennessee. "It was just about hanging in there and getting an opportunity and showing the coaches that I can make plays."

If Moreno or Buckhalter are limited either by their stamina or the heat and humidity Sunday, Ball is ready to play his first NFL game since gaining 13 yards on his only NFL rush, with the Colts in 2008, when he also caught one pass for 5 yards.

"Coach says stay alive, you could be in there, just be ready to play," Ball said.

Ball is about the only Broncos tailback who will take any sort of rhythm into the opener.

"Definitely, it's unfortunate Buck and Knowshon went down, but that gave me an opportunity to be more well-rounded with the offense and be more comfortable," Ball said. "Getting more reps than I probably would have gotten definitely helped me out in understanding the offense.

"I think I'm totally ready. The last game I really didn't play that much, so I had some good resting time, and I'm ready to go."

Ball sat out practice Tuesday but participated in Wednesday's workouts, as did newcomer Andre Brown, who is recovering from a turf-toe injury he sustained before he was cut by the New York Giants last weekend.

Safety Darcel McBath and right tackle Ryan Harris remained sidelined.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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