With the release of Willis McGahee last week, the Denver Broncos are firmly pinning their rushing game hopes on a young triumvirate of Ronnie Hillman, Knowshon Moreno and second-round pick Montee Ball.
If Hillman has a say in the matter, he’ll be the one responsible for picking up the lion’s share of the additional workload.
Hillman was a third-round selection of the Broncos last year and saw mainly spot duty in relief of McGahee. At only 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, Hillman knows there are doubts he can take the pounding of a starting running back on a weekly basis. But Hillman says he’s up for the challenge.
“You get that when you’re a smaller guy,” Hillman said, via Dan Hanzus of NFL.com. “You can’t take the pounding, but I just brush it off. Of course you hear things, I’m not going to sit hear and say I don’t hear what they say, but you just got to let it go.”
Hillman points to the 22 carries he received in the Broncos loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs last season as proof he can stand up to the beating.
“Obviously, getting 22 carries in negative 13-degree-weather against the Ravens (in the divisional playoffs), they shouldn’t have much else to say about that if they’re paying attention,” Hillman said.
The skeptics would say that Hillman only ran for 83 yards in the game despite the 22 carries (a 3.8 yards per carry average). Regardless of whether it’s Hillman, Ball or a resurgent Moreno, the Broncos will need to find someone to add a second dimension to their offense.
Hillman finished the 2012 season with 85 carries for 330 yards and one touchdown.