Javonte Williams Participating In OTAs

Javonte Williams‘ timetable continues to point to the talented running back being ready well before the Broncos’ regular season begins. After Sean Payton indicated Williams had a shot to avoid the active/PUP list and begin training camp on time, the third-year back was on the field for Denver’s OTA session Thursday.

Payton confirmed (via 9News’ Mike Klis) Williams worked in a limited capacity Thursday. Considering Williams’ position and the nature of his injury, any participation in OTAs represents good news for a Broncos team that lost much of its starting lineup to injury last season.

The Broncos lost Williams in Week 4 of last season, four days before they lost left tackle Garett Bolles for the year. Williams suffered ACL and LCL tears, along with posterolateral corner damage, and GM George Paton‘s April assessment — which hinted a return at some point during the 2023 season — did not paint a rosy outlook for the North Carolina alum. But everything since looks to signal Williams, barring a setback, will be ready in time for Week 1.

With Melvin Gordon out of the picture, Williams has a clear path toward the lead role in Denver’s backfield. Known for his tackle-shedding ability, the former second-round pick totaled 1,219 scrimmage yards as a rookie while playing alongside Gordon, who started for most of that 2021 season. The Broncos not only lost Williams on offense but played without Bolles, tackle Billy Turner, center Lloyd Cushenberry and wide receivers Tim Patrick and KJ Hamler for most or all of last season. Patrick, who suffered an ACL tear during training camp last year, has received full clearance to return.

Although Gordon and Mike Boone are no longer on the roster, the Broncos are expected to make free agent acquisition Samaje Perine a major part of their offense. Denver gave Perine a two-year, $7.5MM deal that came with $3MM guaranteed. Perine turned down a similar Bengals offer due to the prospect of increased playing time. With Payton often using multiple backs regularly — from the Pierre ThomasReggie Bush tandem to the more recent Alvin KamaraMark Ingram setup — it should be expected Perine will be asked to play a big role alongside Williams this season. From the looks of this situation in May, however, it does not appear Perine will be called upon to start in place of Williams early in the season.

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