Running back Ronnie Hillman has been a productive member of the Broncos’ offense during his four-year career – particularly over the previous two seasons – but he’s currently fighting for a roster spot, according to Mike Klis of 9News. With C.J. Anderson entrenched as the Broncos’ go-to rusher, the speedy Hillman is left to vie for playing time with fourth-round rookie Devontae Booker and third-year man Kapri Bibbs. Booker seems like a lock to make the team, which could force one of Hillman or Bibbs out of Denver.
“He’s in a hell of a battle with Kapri and Booker right now,” head coach Gary Kubiak said of Hillman. “There’s no way around that. I’m just being honest with you.”
How Hillman fares on special teams during the preseason, including in their upcoming tilt against the 49ers, could determine whether he sticks in Denver.
“Special teams will be really important,” stated Kubiak. “Ronnie is going to play a lot this week and he’s going to play some special teams, so it’s a very competitive situation.”
That will represent a new challenge for Hillman, who was only on the field for two of the Broncos’ special teams snaps last year and none in 2014. On the other hand, the 2012 third-round pick paced their running backs in offensive snaps (524) during the 2015 regular season (notably, Bibbs finished with zero). He also led the team’s rushers in starts (11), attempts (207), yards (863) and touchdowns (seven). Hillman wasn’t exactly integral during the Broncos’ Super Bowl-winning playoff run, though, as he rushed for 54 yards on 32 carries in their three victories. Anderson had as many carries (54) in that stretch as Hillman did yards, and the former racked up between 72 and 90 yards in all three games.
In the offseason, Anderson signed a four-year, $18MM offer sheet with the Dolphins as a restricted free agent, but the Broncos matched it. A month later, they re-upped Hillman on a one-year, $2MM deal with $600K in guarantees. That modest contract won’t be remotely difficult for the Broncos to escape if they want to, and it appears that could happen in the coming weeks.
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