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Ronnie Hillman: I can be Denver Broncos' featured back

CULVER CITY, Calif. -- Ronnie Hillman knows the scouting report.

He's not big enough. He can't take a pounding between the tackles. He's best-suited as a change-of-pace back.

"You get that when you're a smaller guy," the Denver Broncos running back told Around The League on Monday from the NFL Media newsroom. "You can't take the pounding, but I just brush it off. Of course you hear things. I'm not going to sit hear and say I don't hear what they say, but you just got to let it go.

"Obviously, getting 22 carries in negative 13-degree-weather against the Ravens (in the divisional playoffs), they shouldn't have much else to say about that if they're paying attention."

Hillman put on 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason, bulking his frame up to 200 pounds. He said the Broncos actually want him to drop weight and play in the 190-to-195 range.

With Willis McGahee out of the picture, rookie Monte Ball and Knowshon Moreno stand as Hillman's chief competition for playing time. We asked Hillman about his first impressions of Ball, Denver's second-round pick in April's draft.

"He's a good kid -- I can't say kid. He's older than me," Hillman said with a laugh. "He's a good dude, he's learning, he's doing good things out on the field. He's going to be good."

Ball has a very good shot to be the Broncos' lead back when the dust settles. Hillman should be able to carve out his own niche if he is able to improve as a blocker. In Denver, protecting the quarterback is of utmost importance.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.

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