Terrell Davis spent his entire career as a running back with the Broncos, and he continues to root for his former team despite working as an analyst for the NFL Network these days.
I spoke with Davis on Thursday in West Palm Beach on the golf course at PGA National as part of Anquan Boldin's charity event, Q-Fest. Davis is expecting Montee Ball to play well this season as he takes over as the starting running back in Denver.
"With Montee Ball, it's just a matter of him feeling comfortable in the offense," Davis said. "Last year he came in, the passing game was something I don't think he was ever comfortable with. He didn't catch a lot of passes at Wisconsin. And then trying to pick up the blitz was something that most backs coming into the league, they don't have that skill set. That's something that has to be taught. For him, Year 2, going through a full offseason, I think he'll be better prepared for it this season."
Ball was the No. 2 running back for the Broncos as a rookie in 2013 behind Knowshon Moreno. He finished with 120 carries for 559 yards (4.7 yards per carry) and four touchdowns and 20 catches for 145 yards. Moreno is now with the Dolphins, so Ball should have the chance to shine.
He had some quality moments last year with three games with double digits in Fantasy points over a four-game stretch from Weeks 11-14, but now Ball can be a star, especially for Fantasy owners. He recently was drafted in the first round of our latest mock draft, and hopefully he can play like Moreno, who was the No. 5 Fantasy running back last year.
The biggest asset for Moreno last season, and what should help Ball the most, is playing with Peyton Manning. Ball will never see a stacked line of scrimmage, and Davis said that's extremely beneficial for a young rusher.
"It helps," Davis said. "But there's something as far as the pressure you have to deal with playing with a great quarterback, too. The expectations are there, but it makes your job a lot easier when you know you have a quarterback to get guys off of you and soften the box up a little bit and then you have the opportunity to run the ball."
Davis also said Moreno can still be successful with the Dolphins even though he's losing Manning. Moreno had a career season last year with 241 carries for 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns and 60 catches for 548 yards and three touchdowns.
"I'm happy for him," Davis said. "He's got a little more money in his pocket, so you're always happy for a guy. Maybe Miami is a place where he can now get from the shadows of Peyton Manning and people saying the Denver system is why he played well."
Moreno was drafted in Round 7 of the mock draft. He's more of a flex option with the Dolphins, and Ball has much more value replacing him with the Broncos.