ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Needing to clear room for starting linebacker Danny Trevathan and fill-in tight end Dominique Jones, the Denver Broncos on Saturday placed running back Montee Ball and safety Quinton Carter on season-ending injured reserve.
Trevathan was the Broncos' leading tackler last season. He has played just two games this year because of two separate fractures in his left leg, one in August and one in October.
Jones is a massive 6-foot-3, 270-pound former basketball player who spent the last 13 weeks on Denver's practice squad. He has appeared in a dozen NFL games with Indianapolis (2012-13) and Kansas City (2013).
The Broncos promoted him because they've been hit hard at tight end with Julius Thomas (ankle), Jacob Tamme (ribs) and tight end/tackle Paul Cornick (toe) ailing.
Ball had a nice rookie season last year and his 4.7-yard rushing average convinced them they should let Knowshon Moreno leave in free agency. Ball entered camp as the clear-cut No. 1 back but never regained his explosiveness after undergoing an appendectomy in early August.
Then, he tore his right groin when accidentally doing the splits in a game against Arizona on Sept. 21. He returned at St. Louis, his hometown, on Nov. 16 but aggravated the injury early in that game before taking a single handoff.
He finished the season with a paltry 172 yards on 55 carries for a 3.1-yard average with a single touchdown.
When Ball went down, Ronnie Hillman topped 100 yards twice before he, too, got hurt. His sprained left foot has sidelined him for more than a month and C.J. Anderson has capitalized on his chance and has given Denver's offense a new dimension.
Hillman is expected back by month's end.
Carter had made a strong comeback after spending the last two years on IR and rehabbing from microfracture surgery on his left knee. He played in 11 of the Broncos' first 12 games as a nickel safety before the pain in his left knee resurfaced.
Trevathan led the Broncos with 125 tackles last season and added two dozen more stops in the playoffs. He's missed 11 of 13 games with leg fractures near his left knee.
The Broncos plan to have Trevathan back at his weakside spot Sunday at San Diego with top tackler Brandon Marshall sliding over to the middle.
''I'm real eager,'' Marshall said Friday. ''We're both playmakers. We both have great instincts. We both can make plays. So, to have him back will be tremendous.''
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