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Montee Ball returns, but Manning not happy with offense's effort during practice

Running back Montee Ball goes through position drills during practice at Dove Valley on Aug. 19, 2014
Running back Montee Ball goes through position drills during practice at Dove Valley on Aug. 19, 2014 David DeChant/Denver Broncos

Two weeks ago, running back Montee Ball underwent an appendectomy that was expected by some to knock him out of the remainder of the preseason. On Tuesday, he received full medical clearance.

While he was fully cleared, Ball only participated in individual drills. Ronnie Hillman took first-team reps during the practice, which was held jointly with the Houston Texans. Head coach John Fox believes that getting Ball into game action is a gradual process, and is not indicative of lingering effects.

"He's all good to go," said Fox.

While Ball was in attendance, a little disconcerting was the players who did not show up: The entire Broncos offense.

"I thought our offense stunk today. I thought their defense kicked our butt," said quarterback Peyton Manning. "We will learn from the film, and hopefully we come out (Wednesday) and do a better job from a player's standpoint and execute well."

The Broncos and Texans will continue to practice together in advance of their preseason game on Aug. 23. Both players and coaches seem excited about the joint venture, as it may increase the intensity of the practice sessions; intensity that may otherwise wane during the dog days of summer.

"It's almost like having three days of playing a game," said defensive end DeMarcus Ware. "You want to step it up a little bit because you're going against an opposing team and against another opponent, so you will be a little more aggressive since it's not once of your teammates."

Players on the bubble in Broncos camp may be able to rest a little easier as well; as it was announced Tuesday that practice squads will be expanded from eight to 10 players. In addition, some of the rules regarding eligibility have been changed. While players are still only allowed to spend three seasons on a practice squad, what constitutes a season has been changed from three games to nine.

Finally, the Broncos made a transaction on Wednesday, designating defensive end Greg Latta as waived/injured.