Javonte Williams

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.

Broncos Eyeing Javonte Williams Training Camp Return

Javonte Williams suffered a torn ACL in the Broncos’ Week 4 loss to the Raiders. This preceded a number of key Broncos going down during a dismal season. Williams news has been scarce this offseason, but rumblings of the third-year running back’s recovery time lasting into the season have surfaced.

Attempting to provide a bit more clarity on Williams’ situation, Sean Payton gave an optimistic timetable regarding the hard-charging runner’s health. Williams has a chance to return by training camp.

Our current starter’s doing extremely well,” Payton said of Williams. “I would tell you that we expect him to be ready for the start of training camp, and that’s good news.”

Payton also said he is “hopeful” Williams will avoid the PUP list going into camp. The active/PUP list does not carry the importance the reserve/PUP list does, seeing as the former is a training camp designation that does not mandate regular-season absences. Players can be moved off the active/PUP list at any point; anyone who ends the preseason on the reserve/PUP list must miss at least four games. But Williams being ready to go without restrictions by the time the Broncos break for camp in late July would represent a surprising development, considering the uncertainty surrounding this situation.

GM George Paton did not attach a recovery timetable for Williams in April, indicating the team was hopeful he would return “this season.” That put the prospect of essentially two lost seasons for the 2021 second-round pick into play. Considering Williams’ rookie contract runs through the 2024 season, his setback — one that also included LCL and posterolateral corner damage — threatened to derail much of his early-career run. Training camp comes 10-plus months out from Williams’ knee injury. That is well within range for a player to return from this common NFL malady, though more complicated injuries — like Chase Young‘s — can require longer recovery periods.

The Broncos signed Samaje Perine, who rejected a similar offer from the Bengals due to the prospect of more work in Denver, but did not draft a running back. (Perine signed a two-year, $7.5MM deal that includes $3MM guaranteed.) The team did not retain Mike Boone but did add ex-Payton Saints charge Tony Jones Jr. Former Ravens draftee Tyler Badie remains rostered as well. Still, the Broncos’ running back depth chart would be one of the league’s thinnest if Williams is forced to miss more time. The North Carolina alum being ready in time for the regular season would be a boon for the Broncos’ prospects, as they added Ben Powers and high-end run-blocking tackle Mike McGlinchey in free agency.

An “Angry Runs” regular as a rookie, Williams totaled 1,219 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns in 2021. That performance came as the Broncos employed Melvin Gordon as their starter that year. Amid more fumbling trouble, the team cut Gordon late last season. Perine stands to give the Broncos insurance and will be the starter if Williams is not ready, but Payton’s update provides a rosier outlook.

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.

Broncos RB Javonte Williams Suffers Torn ACL

The Broncos’ worst fears have been confirmed with respect to Javonte Williams. The second-year running back has suffered a torn ACL, and his season is over (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of NFL Network). His colleague Ian Rapoport adds that Williams also tore his LCL and posterior lateral corner, further lengthening his road to recovery. 

Williams injured his knee during last night’s loss to the Raiders, and it was immediately thought to be accompanied by a lengthy absence. He underwent an MRI earlier today, which has revealed the damage done to his second NFL campaign, and to the Broncos’ rushing attack.

One of the most highly-touted RB prospects in last year’s draft class, Williams put together a productive college career at North Carolina. That led to him hearing his name called in the second round, with the expectation that he would soon emerge as Denver’s undisputed lead back. He operated in a time share with veteran Melvin Gordon throughout the year, however, totaling 903 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

Despite the latter re-signing in the offseason, Williams was widely viewed as one of the top breakout candidates around the league. He saw a slight uptick in usage early in the 2022 season, with a snap share of 54%. In all, he totaled 204 scoreless yards on 47 carries, and was a factor in the passing game with 76 yards on 16 receptions. His loss will be felt on a Broncos offense which has been surprisingly inconsistent with quarterback Russell Wilson.

With Williams sidelined, Gordon could become the team’s every-down back. However, his well-documented fumbling issues have emerged once again this season, as he leads all running backs with four. Still, his consecutive 1,100-yard campaigns during his first two years in the Mile High City point to the production he is capable of. The next member on the team’s depth chart is Mike Boone, who saw a season-high 19 snaps in yesterday’s contest.

Williams will now begin the long recovery process, while the Broncos will look for short-term solutions to replace his production. The team is in better cap shape than most, so an addition from the pool of remaining free agents could be coming soon.

Javonte Williams, Randy Gregory To Undergo MRIs For Knee Injuries

OCTOBER 3: While further testing is still to be done, the Broncos fear that Williams’ injury will keep him sidelined for at least an extended period, if not the remainder of the season (video link via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport).

OCTOBER 2: As if losing a close game to a division-opponent wasn’t bad enough, the Broncos saw starters on both sides of the ball leave the game with knee injuries, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Running back Javonte Williams and pass rusher Randy Gregory will both get MRIs tomorrow morning, according to Jeff Legwold of ESPN, to determine the severity of their injuries. 

Unfortunately, it sounds like those with knowledge of the situation believe Williams injury to be a serious one, via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). If Williams is forced to miss extended time, it would be a devastating blow to Denver’s offense. While the second-year running back out of North Carolina has consistently split lead-rusher duties with veteran Melvin Gordon, Williams had been the more productive back so far through three games this season.

It also doesn’t help that, after his fourth fumble of the season (the most for an NFL running back so far this year), Gordon was squarely placed in the doghouse tonight. When Williams left the game, instead of Denver leaning on the other side of its two-headed rushing attack, it was third-string veteran Mike Boone that heard his name called. Gordon did eventually return to the game, but his two carries for the remainder of the game are either indicative of the team’s trust in him right now or simply a result of the team needing to pass the ball in order to get back into a game that got away from them late.

Denver will have to figure out where it stands with Gordon moving forward, if Williams is forced to miss multiple games. Boone has extremely limited starting experience from his time in Minnesota and, with Damarea Crockett already on injured reserve, practice squad running back Devine Ozigbo is currently the team’s only other option.

Gregory also left the game with a knee injury. He was able to walk off the field under his own power but, after being examined, was carted off the sideline into the locker room. Gregory is just the latest of several Broncos pass rushers dealing with injuries this season as Christopher Allen, Jonathon Cooper, and Aaron Patrick have all dealt with ailments this season.

The defense struggled to stop the Raiders and running back Josh Jacobs following Gregory’s departure. An extended absence from the field could leave Denver’s defense hurting. If Gregory can’t suit up, young backups Nik Bonitto and Baron Browning will work opposite Bradley Chubb to get to the quarterback.

The lack of optimism is not encouraging heading towards the week, but MRIs Monday morning will inform the Broncos of just how dire their situation is.

Broncos Notes: Offensive Line, Veteran CB Search, Javonte Williams

With OTAs and mandatory minicamp finished across the league, organizations and media members alike have had the chance to break down some of the elements of the offseason which have stood out the most to them. In the case of the Broncos, 9News’ Mike Klis has detailed some of his key observations.

Among those is the plethora of variances in the team’s offensive line combinations during practices. Klis notes that the most commonly-used unit comprised Garett Bolles and Dalton Risner on the left side, with Lloyd Cushenberry III at center and Quinn Meinerz and Calvin Anderson occupying right guard and right tackle, respectively.

There are a number of other options being plugged into various positions, though. Included among those is Netane Muti, who has seen work with the other starters while filling in at both guard positions, as well as Graham Glasgow, who recently returned to practice to compete for a starting role. Lastly, Klis lists Billy Turner as a veteran who is “expected to play” somewhere along the o-line. The 30-year-old came back to the Broncos on a one-year, $5MM deal this offseason, but is also the linemen most experienced in working with new HC Nathaniel Hackett. 

Here are a few other notes from that same Klis piece:

  • Cornerback had the potential to be an area of need, at least in terms of depth behind Patrick Surtain II, Ronald Darby and K’Waun Williams, at this point in the offseason. However, Klis cites the play of Michael Ojemudia during the spring as cause for optimism that the team’s best option for the No. 4 role may already be on the roster. The 2020 third-rounder is set to compete with Damarri Mathis, whom the Broncos drafted in the fourth round this year, for that spot. A number of veteran free agents could still “wind up on GM George Paton’s radar,” Klis notes, however.
  • To no surprise, running back Javonte Williams is expected to “bump up to the 1A role” in 2022. In his rookie season, the North Carolina alum produced over 1,200 scrimmage yards despite splitting carries with Melvin Gordon, who signed a one-year deal to stay in Denver. Given his the former’s efficiency, and the seven-year age gap between the two, Williams is the logical candidate to assume a larger workload going forward.


Broncos Re-Sign RB Melvin Gordon

Melvin Gordon is sticking around Denver. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the veteran running back is re-signing with the Broncos. It’s a one-year deal. Jordan Schultz was first with the news that the RB was re-signing with the organization.

Earlier this evening, Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reported (on Twitter) that the Broncos were “in discussions” about bringing back the veteran running back for another season. Ryan O’Halloran of The Denver Post was first to tweet that the two sides were discussing a new one-year deal. Per Klis (on Twitter), the deal is worth $2.5MM, with Gordon having the chance to earn up to $4MM.

As Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets, Broncos GM George Paton has kept an open dialogue with the veteran RB throughout the offseason, and new head coach Nathaniel Hackett has also shown interest in having a pair of trusted running backs on his roster. Now, the Broncos can roll forward with their successful 2021 tandem, with Gordon joining 2021 second-rounder Javonte Williams in Denver’s backfield.

Following five years with the Chargers, Gordon inked a two-year, $16MM deal with the Broncos in 2020. The 29-year-old couldn’t expect as much this time around; a report from earlier this offseason indicated that the RB could expect a one-year, $2.5MM deal. The veteran eventually changed agents, going from Fletcher Smith and Damarius Bilbo to Brian Murphy and Joe Panos of Athletes First, and the move apparently garnered him some extra cash.

Gordon stood as one of the best free agent RBs remaining on the market, especially since he’s posted more than 1,100 all-purpose yards in each of his last two seasons. He’s also scored exactly ten touchdowns in each of those Broncos campaigns. Gordon also generated interest from the Ravens before landing back in Denver.

Denver Emerging As Premier QB Destination

We wrote a bit earlier today on the Broncos being among multiple AFC teams who “have trade compensation lined up with the Packers,” in relation to quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Well, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Denver has emerged as a prime location for many of the league’s veteran quarterbacks looking for a potential change of scenery.

The Broncos recently hired former Packers’ offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to replace Vic Fangio, who failed to accomplish a winning season in three years with the Broncos. The former Green Bay staffer represents an obvious and strong connection for Rodgers. Should Rodgers decide to move on from the Packers, having a play-caller that he’s familiar with could add some allure to the Mile High City. Another intriguing aspect that could bring a star quarterback to Denver is the addition of former Vikings’ offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak as passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach. Kubiak just helped Kirk Cousins turn in one of his best seasons in Minnesota.

Hackett and company inherit an impressive roster posed to perform. The defense is comprised of veterans like outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, safety Justin Simmons, defensive end Shelby Harris, and cornerback Ronald Darby. There are a number of free agents that Denver would like to bring back like cornerbacks Bryce Callahan & Kyle Fuller, defensive back Kareem Jackson, inside linebacker Josey Jewell, and outside linebacker Malik Reed. Even if they fail to bring some of those names back, the Broncos saw impressive seasons last year for youngsters like cornerback Patrick Surtain II, linebacker Baron Browning, defensive end Dre’Mont Jones, and safety Caden Sterns. The list of defensive players above may not overwhelm you with stardom, but, together, the Broncos defense ranked third in the league in points allowed and eighth in the league in yards allowed.

In addition to a brand new offense and stacked defense, Denver boasts a nice array of young offensive weapons. An impressive receiving corps is led by veteran 26-year-old Courtland Sutton, young star Jerry Jeudy, and Tim Patrick, who has broken out a bit over the past two seasons. The Broncos also have two talented, young receiving tight ends in Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam. Any quarterback looking to join in on the fun would potentially have the benefit of a two-headed rushing attack that was 79 yards short of a combined 2,000-yard rushing season. Running back Javonte Williams enjoyed a healthy dose of carries in his rookie season, and there is mutual interest in bringing back Melvin Gordon.

Rodgers is obviously a name to keep an eye on as the decision on his future in Green Bay looms on the horizon. He has said that he will let the Packers know of his intentions before the franchise tag deadline so they can figure out how to deal with free agent wide receiver Davante Adams. In addition to Rodgers, though, keep an eye out for Denver to make moves on other quarterbacks searching for greener pastures. Russell Wilson has long been rumored to be interested in moving on from Seattle, and Deshaun Watson is still searching for a new home.

Whether Rodgers, Wilson, Watson, or some other under-the-radar name, look for the Broncos to make a move for a star quarterback. If they are able to find the right fit, the move could bring them into contention for what could easily turn into the toughest division in football.

Broncos Rule Out RB Melvin Gordon

After not participating in practice this week, running back Melvin Gordon has been downgraded to out on the injury report for this Sunday’s primetime game in Kansas City. The wear and tear of the season seems to be taking its toll on Gordon as we approach Week 13 of the NFL season.

In last week’s win over the Chargers, Gordon left the game early after injuring his hip. He returned and finished the game rushing 17 times for 83 yards. Denver wasted no time in addressing Gordon’s injury, holding him out of practice to help him recover. Over the course of the week, though, it became apparent that Gordon’s hip injury, partnered with a shoulder injury, was going to take a little more time to heal.

The Broncos will not be without help in the running game, as rookie second-round pick Javonte Williams is set to make his first career start. The North Carolina product has been essentially splitting carries with Gordon all year, carrying the ball 117 times to Gordon’s 135. He’s been about as productive with the opportunities he’s received as the seven-year veteran, as well, racking up 568 yards to Gordon’s 605 yards.

Williams’ success as a rookie gives Denver the flexibility to allow Gordon a week’s rest. They’ll try to get Gordon as healthy as possible as they prepare for a crucial last few weeks in the regular season. They sit one game back of the 1st place Chiefs and boast the same record as the Chargers and Raiders with four divisional games remaining on the schedule.

Broncos Sign Second-Round RB Javonte Williams

With Broncos rookies reporting Saturday, they will have their entire draft class ready for training camp. Second-round pick Javonte Williams signed his four-year rookie deal Friday, becoming the last of Denver’s 10 2021 draftees to sign.

New Broncos GM George Paton traded up in front of the Dolphins at No. 35 to draft Williams, who teamed with Jets fourth-rounder Michael Carter to form one of the nation’s top backfields. Williams entered the draft as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1-rated back; he went off the board third at the position, behind first-rounders Najee Harris and Travis Etienne. Williams doubles as the Broncos’ highest-drafted back since Knowshon Moreno in the 2009 first round.

Williams, who averaged 7.3 yards per carry in his third and final North Carolina season, scored 22 touchdowns in 2020. He amassed 1,445 scrimmage yards despite the COVID-19 pandemic capping the Tar Heels’ season at 11 games. His Denver arrival figures to signal Melvin Gordon will be a two-and-done back with the team — at best.

The Broncos, despite Phillip Lindsay‘s back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, gave Gordon a two-year deal worth $16MM in March 2020. Gordon played well in spurts but also fumbled four times and was arrested for DUI last year. That charge ultimately being dismissed kept Gordon’s guarantees intact, but his 2021 roster spot may not be locked in. Though Lindsay is now in Houston, the Broncos signed ex-Vikings backup Mike Boone this offseason. It would cost the Broncos $6.5MM in dead money to cut Gordon.