The Denver Broncos suffered a massive blow last season after they lost Javonte Williams to a season-ending knee injury. If Williams were to miss any time this upcoming season, is the running back position regular-season ready?

State of the Denver Broncos running back position

As the Denver Broncos continue their voluntary offseason program, Javonte Williams is continuing his rehabilitation and treatment at the team facility. With training camp approaching in several months, there is uncertainty regarding the timeline of when Williams will be ready to return.

How does this uncertainty impact the Broncos running back position?

First and foremost, Williams nor the Broncos should rush back from the severe injury he suffered. Not only did Javonte suffer a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), but he also suffered a torn LCL (lateral collateral ligament) as well as a posterolateral corner injury, which is on the outside of the knee.

The NFL world knows how special of a player Williams is, which should give Broncos fans peace of mind if Williams isn’t ready for the start of the season.

One of the more common issues that occur after a major knee injury and surgery involves athletes rushing back too soon. While an ACL injury requires overcoming a lot of physical obstacles, the mental journey many athletes experience during their recovery and rehab process is just as taxing.

Prior to NFL Free Agency, Broncos general manager George Paton discussed where Javonte was at from a standpoint of progress.

“I think he’s on track,” Paton said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “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. [RB] Javonte [Williams]—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.”

Paton and Sean Payton did just that. Denver signed Samaje Perine one week later, adding a dynamic piece to the backfield as the Broncos build a new offense.

“I see position flex,” Payton said of Perine at the NFL Annual Meeting. “If you really watch [RB Samaje] Perine and study the tape, you see him on early downs, and you see him playing third down. He’s a really good receiver. Obviously, he could block the blitz. He’s big, he’s physical, he’s smart, he’s tough. He’s built to last. That was an important piece for us knowing the injury that we’re dealing with. He was really important.”

If Williams is unable to go at the start of the season, Perine is expected to be the starter for the Broncos.

Another move the team made was adding former New Orleans Saints rusher Tony Jones Jr. to the roster. He’ll compete alongside Tyler Badie, Tyreik McAllister, and Damarea Crockett for a spot on the roster once training camp rolls around.

Could the Broncos add a running back in the NFL Draft?
While Denver currently has several players on the roster at the running back position, they could add another player in the 2023 NFL Draft.

One player that could be available when Denver drafts at the 67th and 68th overall picks could be Pittsburgh rusher Israel Abanikanda who was snagged in the first installment of Mile High Sports’ ‘Third Round Thursday’ mock draft.

All options are on the table for the Denver Broncos right now, but one thing is very clear considering the offseason moves the Paton and Payton duo have made — Denver’s offense will embrace a physical, smash-mouth, in-your-face approach with a heavy emphasis on pounding the rock.

If Javonte Williams is ready to go for the start of the regular season, he and Perine will be a dynamic duo in the rushing department.