As the Broncos deal with a season-ending knee injury to starting running back Javonte Williams, they’ve reached out for some help. Denver has reportedly signed running back Latavius Murray off of the Saints’ practice squad, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
The Saints offered Murray a spot on their active roster, according to NewOrleans.football’s Nick Underhill (on Twitter). But Murray opted for Denver, which looks set to offer a more prominent role. The Broncos will be without their top running back for the rest of the season, and their primary off-the-bench option (Melvin Gordon) is leading all backs in fumbles this season.
After a similar situation brought Murray to Baltimore last season, the 32-year-old spent the offseason training on his own before signing to the practice squad in New Orleans just after Week 1, returning to the city he called home for two years. With star running back Alvin Kamara out for the Saints’ London matchup against the Vikings last weekend, Murray was called up as a gameday elevation from the practice squad. Splitting carries with Mark Ingram in the backfield, Murray led the team with 11 rush attempts for 57 yards and a touchdown.
Murray reverted back to the practice squad after the game, allowing for other teams in the NFL to pick him away from New Orleans. Enter the Broncos, sans Williams. Denver has similarly been running a two-headed rushing attack with Williams and Gordon. The former first-rounder had put himself in the doghouse on Sunday after his fourth fumble (a league-high for a running back) before Williams was injured and, after a few carries to third-string back Mike Boone, returned to play.
The veteran Murray likely won’t be able to replace the production of Williams, but his ability to function in a split backfield makes him a handsome fit in Denver. While some may not expect much out of Murray as soon as this weekend, one needs only look back to his tenure with the Ravens to change their mind. Murray was one of several veteran running backs to sign with Baltimore following the injuries to J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill. He was signed just three days before the season began and still led the team in carries for two of the first three weeks of the year. He was eventually named the starting running back in Week 4.
In Denver, the Broncos have a legitimate starter in Gordon and an experienced backup in Boone, who has been with the team since last year. There will certainly be no need to rush Murray into action this week, but he certainly has the ability to contribute if needed.