This Atlanta Falcons team has shown signs of improvement throughout the offseason and preseason. The defense looks much improved, the offense has been clicking, but there are still several question marks around this team. The secondary is shaky, the offensive line has been dreadful at times and there is no clear cut running back option for the team. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman have both been battling injuries throughout training camp and the preseason. Antone Smith recently reached an injury settlement with the team and will no longer be with the Falcons. Terron Ward has had a nice preseason, but he does not seem like an every down back in the NFL. Tevin Coleman finally got on the field in the last preseason game against the Ravens. The Falcons 2015 3rd-round pick averaged 7 yards per carry on 8 carries against Baltimore and looked very capable of being a good NFL running back. However, the sample size is small and he is far from a sure thing. Adding an additional talent like Montee Ball could sure up the backfield heading into the first game of the season.
Ball broke onto the national scene during his junior year at Wisconsin, in which he rushed for over 2,000 yards and broke an NCAA record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 33 for the Badgers. His numbers earned him a trip to New York as one of five Heisman Trophy finalists. Heading into his senior season there was a cloud of hype that followed Ball. He turned in another stellar year by rushing for over 1,900 yards and 22 TDs. He headed into the 2013 draft as one of the top running backs in the class and was drafted in the 2nd round by the Broncos.
In 2013, Ball averaged 4.7 yard per carry on 120 attempts for Denver while backing up Knowshon Moreno. He exhibited that great vision and elusiveness that he showcased at Wisconsin. The Broncos penciled Ball in as the opening day starter heading into the 2014 season. There was loads of hype surrounding Ball and he looked to be a huge piece to a Denver team with eyes on a Super Bowl run. However, his inability to hold onto the football and protect Peyton Manning left him in the dog house. Injuries did not help either, as Montee Ball watched teammate C.J. Anderson shine, while he sat on the sideline in street clothes. He only ended up playing in 5 games for the Broncos in 2014 rushed for only 172 yards.
C.J. Anderson took a stranglehold on the starting job with his performance in the second half of last season. However, Ball headed into the offseason with the intention of regaining a role on the team. It looked like he had made the team initially, as he made the opening 53-man roster, but after signings today the Broncos waived Ball. The former 2nd-round draft pick deserves a chance to earn a spot on another NFL roster. He showed great promise in his rookie campaign and could still very well end up being a good starting NFL running back for some team. Health will be a key factor in his success, but the Falcons currently have an open roster spot with no clear cut starter heading into opening day. Ball may not be the answer, but he is worth taking a look at before opening night on Monday Night football.