Patriots sign RB Montee Ball to practice squad


Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The most noteworthy New England Patriots news Tuesday afternoon was the development of former Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball signing to the team’s practice squad. ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter broke the news:

Only 25 years old, Ball still has plenty of gas left in the tank since being selected 58th overall by the Broncos in the 2013 NFL Draft. Ball joins James White as Wisconsin products on the Patriots’ roster.

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Ball was an extremely effective player for the Broncos in his rookie season, carrying the ball 120 times for 559 yards and four touchdowns, good for a solid 4.7 yards per attempt. He also made his presence felt in the passing game, snagging 20 balls for 145 yards.

However, Ball suffered a bit of sophomore slump in 2014, mustering just 3.1 yards per carry on only 55 attempts because he missed 11 games due to a groin injury suffered in Week 5. The crowded Denver backfield of C.J. Anderson, Ronnie Hillman and Juwan Thompson spelled the end of Ball’s days as a Bronco, and he’s been on the couch ever since.

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The Patriots signing Ball to their practice squad means several things.

One, the situation with LeGarrette Blount’s hip injury may be more serious than we thought. At the very least, it looks like the veteran will miss the next few games, as he’s been spotted on crutches. Hopefully, Blount will be back for the postseason.

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Additionally, the fact that Ball was signed to the practice squad and not directly to the active roster indicates that the Pats are content with Brandon Bolden and James White handling the primary roles in the ground game. As Bolden showed against the Houston Texans in Week 14, he is fully capable of taking 15, 20 carries if need be, and White continues to prove his worth as a receiving outlet out of the backfield.

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Don’t be surprised if Ball gets called up sooner rather than later, however. The Patriots are another injury away from being scarily thin at running back.

UPDATE Tuesday 8:00 P.M. EST – According to ESPN NFL insider Adam Shefter, Blount has been ruled out for the rest of the season. It looks like Ball could be used in game action very soon.