ENGLEWOOD | The Denver Broncos waived running back Montee Ball and center Gino Gradkowski on Sunday to make room for two players they were awarded off waivers.
The Broncos bolstered their O-line by claiming center James Ferentz, who was cut by the Houston Texans. And they propped up a thin tight end group by adding Mitchell Henry from the Green Bay Packers.
The second-round pick in 2013 never lived up to expectations in Denver after scoring an NCAA-record 83 touchdown at Wisconsin.
After pledging to win back his starting job from C.J. Anderson, Ball slipped from second to fourth string in the Broncos’ backfield.
When Ball made Denver’s 53-man cut Saturday, GM John Elway noted his roster was “always fluid.”
Ball predicted in the spring he’d unseat Anderson, who went to the Pro Bowl last season. Ball, however, ran for just 2.1 yards a carry in the preseason and was surpassed by Ronnie Hillman and Juwan Thompson on the depth chart.
The Broncos’ clear-cut starter heading into his second season after rushing for a 4.7-yard average his rookie year, Ball never regained his explosiveness or his starting job after undergoing an emergency appendectomy in August 2014. He blamed the three-week layoff for weakening his core, which he said in turn led to the torn right groin that landed him on injured reserve.
He finished with only 172 yards on 55 carries for a 3.1-yard average and a single TD last season. As a rookie backup, he rushed for 559 yards on 120 carries and four touchdowns.
The Broncos began filling out their 10-man practice squad Sunday with six rookies who had been in their camp: cornerback Taurean Nixon, wide receiver Jordan Taylor, linebackers Zaire Anderson and Danny Mason, center Dillon Day and defensive end Chuka Ndulue.