Broncos RB Javonte Williams Facing Uncertain Return Timeline

The Broncos entered the 2022 season with significant expectations on offense primarily due to the arrival of Russell Wilson, but also with Javonte Williams set to take on a lead running back role. The latter’s breakout campaign was cut short, and it remains unclear when he will be back on the field.

Williams tore his ACL in October, limiting him to only four games in his second NFL season. The 22-year-old was poised to take over as the clear-cut No. 1 back in Denver, after he split snaps with veteran Melvin Gordon as a rookie. Williams’ snap share only rose to 54% in 2022, but he continued to flash potential with an average of 4.3 yards per carry while the team’s offensive issues began to show themselves.

The North Carolina alum was immediately ruled out for the season, and his recovery process includes rehabbing a torn LCL and posterior lateral corner. When asked about Williams’ progress so far, general manager George Paton offered an optimistic answer, albeit one which underscores the uncertainty surrounding when he will be able to play next season.

“Javonte is doing really well in his rehab,” he said, via Denver7’s Troy Renck“We don’t have a date, but we feel good. We feel good that he’ll be back this season. We’re not entirely sure when. He’s progressing very well… if there’s a runner there – no matter what point of the draft – and he’s the best player on our board, we’ll take a running back, that’s for sure.”

Denver already found a capable backup in Samaje Perine, who signed a two-year, $7.5MM contract in free agency. The 27-year-old played 54 games in Cincinnati, establishing himself as a dependable pass-catching back during his time with the Bengals. A larger role would await him for at least part of the 2023 campaign if Williams is indeed unable to suit up for Week 1.

Given Paton’s willingness to add another RB in the draft – which would come no earlier than the third round, since Denver doesn’t own any of the first 66 picks – the team’s backfield could become crowded when Williams recovers in full. The Broncos ranked 21st on the ground in 2022, averaging 114 rushing yards per game. A healthy Williams (and an offensive line which has seen multiple high-priced investments in free agency) should help boost that figure, though the point at which he will be back very much remains in the air.

View Comments (0)