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Broncos running back Montee Ball has emergency appendectomy

NFL: AFC Championship-New England Patriots at Denver Broncos
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(USA Today Sports Images)

Beware fantasy leaguers: Fast-rising Montee Ball had an emergency appendectomy.

The Broncos starting running back should be fine for the season opener, according to reports from the Denver Post and ESPN. Still, it's a tough spot for a player who was expected to have a big breakout in his second season. Ball presumably will miss most or all of the preseason after the surgery, taking away a lot of practice repetitions he could have used.

The Broncos didn't invest anything in the position this offseason. They let Knowshon Moreno leave. He signed with Miami. Denver will go with C.J. Anderson, who has seven career carries, and Ronnie Hillman, who drew the ire of the coaches for mistakes and was benched for most of last season including all three playoff games. Heading into a season in which the Broncos have legitimate Super Bowl hopes, that can't be comforting.

The initial prognosis is that Ball will be back for the season opener against the Colts, and perhaps he'll be back to full speed not long after that. The Broncos better hope so, because they're planning to put a lot of the running offense on his shoulders.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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