Ronnie Hillman aims to be Denver’s featured back

Hillman bulked up for new role: When the Denver Broncos released Willis McGahee last week, it appeared the move cleared the deck for rookie Montee Ball to step in as the team’s No. 1 runner. Not so fast, says Ronnie Hillman. The second-year back says he has what it takes to be Denver’s bell-cow this season. It was a role that the Broncos once seemed eager to have him fill. But his small frame caused the team to wonder if he was up to the task — hence the drafting of Ball. There’s no doubt that Hillman will have a significant role to play in the running game, but he’ll have tough competition from the rookie if he expects to nab the top spot on the depth chart.

Cowboys resting Austin: Knowing that they need Miles Austin healthy this season, the Dallas Cowboys have been giving the veteran wideout days off during offseason workouts. Over the past couple of seasons, Austin has been hampered by leg issues — he missed six games in 2011 — and has seen his production suffer accordingly. His inability to stay healthy has him sliding down draft boards, but if he can return to his 2010 form, Austin has big sleeper potential … especially playing across from the emerging Dez Bryant.

Broyles: ‘I’ll be ready': The Detroit Lions aren’t expecting Ryan Broyles to return to the field until the middle of 2013. Broyles, however has his own timeline, which puts him back in action in time for Week 1. So far, his progress has been impressive — he has told reporters that he’s been able to participate in full practices and expects to be even stronger by the start of training camp. The team may still take a more cautious approach and fantasy owners should certainly be wary of a player with two major knee injuries in two seasons. Nonetheless, the Lions are in search of someone who can complement Calvin Johnson. If Broyles can stay healthy and perform up to expectations, he could be that guy.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

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