Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since Week 5.
Ball left the Broncos' Week 5 win over the Arizona Cardinals with a strained groin. Though it was reported at the time that Ball could miss up to three weeks, he's already missed four games, and his status for this week's game against the Oakland Raiders is unknown. He practiced in a limited fashion Wednesday, head coach John Fox said.
Ball also missed two weeks in the preseason after undergoing an emergency appendectomy.
At the time of his injury, Ball's 55 carries and 172 yards led the Broncos. Second-string back Ronnie Hillman has replaced Ball as Denver's lead back, carrying the ball 68 times for 299 yards and three touchdowns since Ball left the lineup. Hillman had 10 carries for just 16 yards in the Broncos' 43-21 loss to the New England Patriots last Sunday.
The Broncos' loss to New England was their most lopsided regular season defeat since quarterback Peyton Manning joined the team in 2012. It marked the fourth straight season the team lost to New England on the road.
Denver faces a Raiders team this week that is still winless, making it the last team in the NFL without a victory, and that is ranked 27th in the NFL in run defense, allowing 132.5 rushing yards per game.
The Broncos are now 6-2 this season and in first place in the AFC West.
- Ben Estes