The Denver Broncos may be better than last year's Super Bowl runner-up squad not only because of an improved defense, but a stronger running game as well. That could get a boost this week if running back Ronnie Hillman is able to return. Hillman was limited in Thursday's practice after missing the past five games, and Denver is hoping to have him back vs. the Bengals on Monday Night Football.
It's been a bit of a turntable at running back this year for the Broncos. Montee Ball opened the year as the starter, but he suffered a groin injury in Week 5. He returned six weeks later and reinjured the groin, and was later placed on season-ending I.R.
Then came Hillman's shot, and actually looked like an upgrade over Ball. In the four games Hillman started and finished, he rushed for 347 yards on 73 carries (4.7 ypc) and three scores. He's also chipped in 20 catches for 137 yards and another score on the year.
However, Hillman suffered a foot injury that has knocked him out of the previous five games. In his place, C.J. Anderson has emerged, rushing for 478 yards on 109 attempts (4.39 ypc), four scores and 24 first downs since Week 12. He also has 24 catches for 249 yards and two scores in 13 games.
Hillman remains day to day. Juwan Thompson (hip, knee) sat out Thursday's practice, leaving Anderson's Week 16 backup up in the air. Thompson and Anderson have been a nice 1-2 punch over the past month, but Hillman would provide an upgrade over Thompson.