Broncos rookie running back Montee Ball says his head was spinning the first time he stepped on a practice field with Peyton Manning.
“Well, first off, it was overwhelming at the beginning just because it’s a difficult offensive play book, just because it’s Peyton Manning. He keeps a lot of players on his toes by changing the plays and all that stuff,” Ball said. “In our OTAs and that stuff. Every day at practice we would work on something. He would ask me, ‘What do you think you need help in?’ I would tell him I need help with this route or this play. Then we would work on it right after practice before we even go to our meetings.
Ball said Manning has a knack for seeing where the Broncos can have success in the running game, and Manning tells Ball where he can beat an opposing defense.
“That’s another way he has helped me out, really understanding what the defense is trying to accomplish and what they are trying to disguise,” Ball said. “In film and during meetings he really preached to me about watching the safeties and all that stuff. It really helped me out overall with my routes, with my runs and all that stuff.”
In college at Wisconsin, Ball was the focal point of a simple run-first offense. It’s not like that in Denver.
“In Wisconsin, it was fairly basic, and that’s what I tell people,” Ball said. “Just going from a college playbook to an NFL playbook is very difficult, but going from a college playbook to Peyton Manning’s playbook is a whole another story. It was difficult at first to grasp the playbook, but it was a process that was definitely enjoyed because now it’s just second nature to me.”
Ball also told reporters about the first time he found out he’d be teammates with Manning, when the Broncos drafted him in April.
“I was hanging out with my family, back in Madison at a hotel and I was getting a bunch of texts,” Ball said. “I’m scrolling through them, reading and reading them, and then I get to this last one, and I’m reading congratulations and all this stuff, then I get to the bottom of it and it says ‘P. Manning’ and I went, ‘Wow.’ I was like, ‘Mom, Dad, Peyton Manning just texted me.’ I knew it was real just because of what he said in the text. It really hit home for me because he was congratulating me and he said, ‘Really looking forward to having you here because we’re looking for you to help us.’”
Manning and Ball have helped each other a lot.