Broncos Could ‘Slow-Play’ Return of Injured Rusher

Getty According to Mile High Huddle's Nick Kendell, the Broncos could "slow-play" Javonte Williams' return during the 2023 season

The Broncos could “slow-play” the return of injured running back Javonte Williams according to Mile Hugh Huddle’s Nick Kendell — doing so in the interest of “protecting” the 22-year-old North Carolina product.

“Given the severity of Williams’ injury suffered in Week 5 last season and the regular season still being months away, it’s hard to believe anyone would know for certain whether Williams could be back by (Week 1),” Kendell prefaced before saying, “Even if he is on the active roster, it might be best to protect him and slow-play his return.”

Broncos general manager George Paton told reporters at the NFL Combine on March 2 that Williams could be back for Denver in Week 1.

“I think he’s on track,” Paton told reporters. “I don’t want to put a date on it. But he’s out there jogging. He’s working his butt off. He’s rehabbing. Javonte—they anticipate he would be ready for the start of the season. We’ll have a plan [if he’s not ready at the start of the season]. We’ll have another back or two to be ready if he can’t go.”

Javonte Williams Possible for Broncos PUP List

Mile High Huddle’s Zack Kelberman didn’t share the same optimism about Williams’ return that Paton did while speaking to a press scrum at the NFL Combine.

“Because of the timing and severity of the injury, and depending on his progress, Williams is a candidate to open the fall on the Physically Unable to Perform list, which would cost him at least six games,” Kelberman wrote.

Williams tore his ACL, LCL, and posterolateral corner during a 32-23 October 2 loss to the Raiders in Las Vegas. With that said, he told Denver7’s Troy Renck on February 13 that he has been able to do everything physically asked of him from the Broncos organization.

With that said, Denver made it clear ahead of free agency that Williams’ absence wouldn’t sit on their hands waiting for the former second-rounder to return. ” “We’ll have another back or two to be ready if he (Williams) can’t go,” Paton said at the combine.

Kendell believes that the Broncos’ offseason transactions only moved the needle some — stating that Denver would still need to fortify the RB room in the NFL draft in late April.

“Williams or not, the Broncos needed to address the running back position this offseason,” Kendell wrote before saying, “The team did sign veteran running back Samaje Perine to a two-year, $7.5 million contract, as well as Tony Jones Jr, but even with those additions, the Broncos could and should still consider fortifying the position this offseason.”

LaDainian Tomlinson: Broncos Should Target Jahmyr Gibbs

According to LaDainian Tomlinson, the Broncos should pursue Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs. Tomlinson explained his case during an NFL Network segment.

“(Gibbs) can catch out of the backfield,” Tomlinson prefaced before saying, “(he’s) very quick inside and outside, and can make people miss… (Gibbs) does a really good job catching the football with his hands.”

Per NFL Draft Buzz, Gibbs is a projected late first-rounder following a strong showing during Alabama’s pro day on March 23. Denver won’t have a draft pick until the third round, making such a move possible only if Paton makes a move into the first round.