Quinton Carter

Broncos Place Montee Ball, Quinton Carter On IR

Montee Ball‘s disappointing season has come to an end, as Mike Klis of the Denver Post writes that the Broncos will place their second-year running back on the injured reserve. Ball will join Quinton Carter on the season-ending list, with linebacker Danny Trevathan and tight end Dominique Jones taking the two open roster spots.

Coming off a rookie season where he rushed for 559 yards and four touchdowns, Ball faced various ailments from the start of his second campaign. Despite undergoing an appendectomy during the preseason, he was the team’s featured back through the first month of the season. He suffered a groin injury in the Broncos’ early-October victory over Arizona, forcing him out of the lineup for more than a month. He made a brief return in a November loss to the Rams, but his groin injury lingered.

As Fox Sports’ Mike Garafolo notes (via Twitter), the emergence of C.J. Anderson allowed the team to end Ball’s season early. Anderson and the injured Ronnie Hillman have combined for 1,347 all-purpose yards and ten touchdowns this season, while Ball compiled 234 yards and a touchdown in five games. While the former second-rounder hasn’t lived up to expectations since entering the league, Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required) have not been overly critical of the running back.

Carter showed a lot of promise when he entered the league in 2011, starting 12 games as a rookie. The Oklahoma product spent the next two seasons recovering from knee surgery, and he was used primarily as a backup nickel safety this season. Klis notes in his report that Carter’s career with the Broncos could be finished, as the 26-year-old is set to be a free agent at the end of the season.

Trevathan played two games for the Broncos earlier this season before succumbing to a knee injury. The third-year pro was subsequently placed on the IR-DTR. Trevathan will likely slide back into a backup role with Denver, one season after finishing with more than 100 tackles.

Jones’ promotion is insurance in case Julius Thomas or Jacob Tamme are limited this weekend. The tight end has bounced around a bit since entering the league in 2011, spending time with the Colts, Dolphins, Chiefs and Bills.

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Flowers, Sherman, Chargers, Raiders

While the focus is on Von Miller and Chris Harris rehabbing ACL injuries, denverbroncos.com’s Andrew Mason takes a look at other defenders coming off injury who could strengthen the Broncos’ defense, including free safety Quinton Carter and pass rusher Quanterus Smith.

Carter, who has missed most of the last two seasons because of knee and hamstring problems, looked promising as a rookie in 2011, but has since been passed on the depth chart by Rahim Moore. With Moore and T.J. Ward holding down starting spots and Duke Ihenacho and special teams captain David Bruton providing depth, Omar Bolden could be on the bubble. A healthy Carter could create an interesting storyline if he’s able to push Moore, as both are free agents at year’s end.

In the case of Smith, he was one of the most productive pass rushers in college football in 2012 before a late-season torn ACL knocked him down to the fifth round. After a “redshirt” 2013, the 6-5, 255-pounder is poised to earn reps in passing situations. Said defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio: “On tape coming out, we liked [Smith’s] athleticism, his length, his ability to bend and his ability to rush the quarterback. So those are things we’re looking forward to seeing from him.”

Here’s a few more AFC West notes:

  • In a Chiefs mailbag, ESPN’s Adam Teicher said third-round cornerback Phillip Gainesis insurance in 2015 for Brandon Flowers, who is also expensive and may not be a good fit for what the Chiefs are doing on defense.” Flowers has three years remaining on a six-year, $49.35MM deal ($22MM guaranteed), though he struggled adapting to defensive coordinator’s Bob Sutton’s press-man responsibilities (his -9.8 pass coverage rating was the worst on the team, according to Pro Football Focus), and his name surfaced in trade rumors around draft time.
  • Chiefs Rookie quarterback Aaron Murray, drafted in the fifth round after tearing his ACL in November, could be stashed on IR, says Teicher. Behind starter Alex Smith, the Chiefs have veteran backup Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray and Murray, though Teicher doesn’t see keeping all three or utilizing a practice squad spot as viable options.
  • Fullback Anthony Sherman has flourished in Andy Reid’s West Coast offense, writes Pro Football Focus’ Matt Claassen. According to PFF, Sherman had an outstanding season as a run blocker, was an opportunistic as a receiver and served as a productive, core special teams player.
  • Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com provides a projected starting lineup for the Chargers. In his accompanying thoughts, Rosenthal calls tight end Ladarius Green a potential breakout player. Meanwhile, in a fan chat for the team’s website, GM Tom Telesco explained why less than ideal measurables didn’t prevent them from drafting cornerback Jason Verrett — who is expected to start from Day One — and nose tackle Ryan Carrethers.
  • In a review of the Raiders’ offseason, ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez praises GM Reggie McKenzie for not overthinking and letting the draft come to him, particularly with top picks Khalil Mack and Derek Carr. Gutierrez also credits McKenzie for not overpaying for veteran free agents while creating a “strong enough locker room to withstand a wild card or two,” i.e. the addition of Greg Little.
  • Accordingly, Rosenthal says, “No team had a more dramatic overhaul this offseason,” as he projects the Raiders’ starting lineup. In his supplemental notes, Rosenthal calls free agent offensive tackle Donald Penn a boom-or-bust signing and says there’s reason to worry about the secondary, particularly if 2013 first-rounder D.J. Hayden doesn’t elevate his game.