Even after leading the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos in rushing and touchdowns last season, there has still been a considerable amount of doubt surrounding Ronnie Hillman’s future with the Broncos. In recent weeks there have been multiple suggestions that he won’t make the final 53-man roster. Saturday’s performance against the Rams may have proved otherwise.

Although just 24-years old, Hillman is entering his fifth season in the NFL. After the Broncos 17-9 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night, Hillman said the adversity he’s facing doesn’t change the way he approaches the game.

“I don’t think [the adversity] changes anything. I still have to go out and prove I can still play and make the team,” Hillman said. “I just came in with the mindset of ‘I got to make this hard on the coaches’, and if I made it hard on the coaches then I did my job.”

Despite not having the backing from many Denver media members, Hillman has quietly had a very productive preseason. In the first two preseason games Hillman led the Broncos with 5.7 yards per carry on just six carries. In the third preseason game Hillman averaged 9 yards per carry, again leading the Broncos yards per average with five carries for 45 yards and a rushing touchdown.

Coming into the game Saturday Hillman was in a roster-spot battle with fellow running back Kapri Bibbs. After the game Saturday night, it seemed like Hillman may have ran his way past Bibbs for that spot.

“Ronnie has played well the last two weeks. Ronnie is in a battle, I think everyone knows that,” head coach Gary Kubiak said after Saturday’s game. “Kapri [Bibbs] has done some good things and Ronnie has responded as a player the last two weeks. That’s what you’re looking for. I’m very proud of him, he did some good stuff tonight.”

Bibbs didn’t see the field until Hillman already had five carries for 45 yards, and was only able to add 11 yards on five carries – a drastic difference from Hillman’s productivity.

“I did what was there. The offensive line opened up holes for the running back all night, so tonight I took advantage of the look,” Hillman said.

Along with the ability to run the ball, Kubiak has stressed that special teams will be a major factor in the decision. Unlike in years past, Hillman has been an active member of the special teams unit this preseason and will do anything he needs to in order to make the team.

“If I still got to play special teams, I guess that’s what I’ve got to do. Tonight I just had the opportunity to run the ball and help with the run game,” said Hillman.

While most people hoped that a quarterback would have a breakout performance and prove their worth to the team, Hillman may have done just that for the third-string running back position.

“I just came in here with the mindset of just being me, and that’s what I was tonight, I was me and I had the opportunity to make some big plays,” said Hillman. “I had a few runs, so hopefully I gave them a couple of things to think about.”

Hillman said he wanted to make the decision for the coaches a difficult one, but in fact with his performance on Saturday, and all of preseason, he may have made it a fairly easy decision – to keep him on the team.

The final 53-man roster needs to be decided by Saturday, Sept. 3. By all indications from his performance, Hillman has earned himself a spot as a member of that final group.