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Ball returns to sideline after appendectomy

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) The Denver Broncos are content to wait for running backs Montee Ball and C.J. Anderson to heal.

Coach John Fox said Saturday he doesn't plan to bring in any free agent running backs in light of Ball's appendectomy or Anderson's concussion.

''We are always looking to improve the team. That goes on 24/7, 365, really, but right now there is nothing pressing,'' Fox said. ''We feel pretty good about the group we have.''

That group includes just one back who's ever played in an NFL game, Ronnie Hillman, plus three undrafted free agents in Juwan Thompson, Brennan Clay and Kapri Bibbs and first-year pro Jerodis Williams, who played for Minnesota in last year's preseason.

Anderson, third on the depth chart, is being treated under the conditions of the NFL's concussion protocol after getting knocked from Denver's 21-16 win over Seattle on Thursday night.

He was sent home from the Broncos complex Saturday. ''He had little headaches, which is very normal at this stage,'' Fox said.

Ball returned to the Broncos sideline five days after undergoing his appendectomy and said he was feeling good but didn't know when he'd be back in full pads.

Ball said he expects to begin running next week, although the Broncos don't plan on using him until the season opener Sept. 7 against Indianapolis.

''We saw plenty of him a year ago and saw plenty of him in the offseason,'' Fox explained.

Ball said he awoke at 2:30 a.m. Monday with a sharp pain in his right side. He was under the knife 12 hours later. He said he's lost six pounds, dropping to 209, but is starting to regain flexibility in his trunk.

Ball called his operation a ''quick, painless procedure,'' but said it ''restricted a lot of my movement early on. I feel great now. Right now I'm able to move around but I'll listen to the training staff and my body and I'll come back stronger.''

Ball said he felt fortunate the appendicitis announced itself now, before it could burst and before the Broncos get into games that count.

''Obviously, it's great that it happened now than in September. Very unfortunate situation for me but right now I'm looking up and feeling great and I get to do some running next week,'' Ball said.

The Broncos are counting on Ball, who ran for 559 yards and four touchdowns last year as Knowshon Moreno's backup, to help them balance out their pass-heavy offense as the starter in 2014.

Ball said he has no timetable for his return to full pads, saying, ''I'm just listening to my body and listening to our great training staff. ... No reason to rush.''

He added that he appreciated all the people that visited him in the hospital, including his position coach, Eric Studesville, and Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis.

Asked if Ellis brought him cards and candy, Ball said, ''No, just some wise words that I needed to hear. He just said, `We're praying for you, we're all looking out for you if you need anything.' That's what helped me out a lot.''

Notes: WR Emmanuel Sanders (thigh) was held out of the morning practice. Sanders didn't practice Tuesday but started against Seattle, logging 20 snaps. ... DE Malik Jackson was excused for personal reasons. ... DE Chase Vaughn (right knee), DE Greg Latta (right hip) and CB Louis Young (groin) were held out again.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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