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Ronnie Hillman in “helluva battle” for backfield spot

Denver Broncos Practice

STANFORD, CA - FEBRUARY 03: Ronnie Hillman #23 of the Denver Broncos runs with the ball during the Broncos practice for Super Bowl 50 at Stanford University on February 3, 2016 in Stanford, California. The Broncos will play the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 on February 7, 2016. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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Running back Ronnie Hillman has spent all four years of his NFL career with the Broncos and Denver re-signed him as a free agent after he ran for a career-high 863 yards last season, which suggests they liked what he’s provided the offense during his time with the team.

They didn’t like it enough to guarantee him a roster spot for this season, however. The Broncos drafted Devontae Booker in the fourth round this April and he’s made a strong push for a role complementing C.J. Anderson in the backfield and Kapri Bibbs helps the team on special teams, something that Hillman hasn’t done in his career.

Coach Gary Kubiak suggested Hillman will have to add that to his portfolio if he’s going to stick around for a fifth year with the team.

“Ronnie is in a battle, a helluva battle with Kapri and Book right now,” Kubiak said, via “There’s no way around that. I’m just being honest with you. Special teams are going to be real important. Ronnie is going to play a lot this week, and he’s going to have to play some special teams, so it’s a very competitive situation right now.”

Hillman ran the ball three times for 13 yards against the Bears last week. It sounds like he’ll need to do considerably more than that against the 49ers to forestall a changing of the guard in Denver’s backfield.