Broncos RT Ja'Wuan James Speaks Publicly on What Really Happened to his Knee

Chad Jensen

The Denver Broncos invested $51 million over four years in offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James this past spring. It was at the time the biggest right tackle contract in the history of the league. 

Fast forward to Week 17 and James has appeared in just three games for the Broncos, seeing a grand total of 63 snaps. James suffered what we were told was a knee sprain in the season-opener at Oakland, which has ostensibly plagued him throughout the balance of the season. 

We've heard from Vic Fangio on the subject, and the Broncos' head coach has seemed as mystified as the fans when it comes to James' mysterious injury. However, on Christmas Eve, we finally got some context from the player himself. 

James spoke publicly for the first time with Nicki Jhabvala of the Athletic, clearing, as it were, the air. 

"I tore some ligaments in my knee the first game of the season," James said. "Was working back to get it healed, came back for that Colts game and ended up reinjuring it. I re-tore all the scar tissue that was healing and then ended up tearing part of my meniscus. They said it wouldn't be that serious but when I was out there, even at practice, trying to come back, my knee was buckling on me. It was just weak because the ligaments weren't strong."

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Again, that injury was originally sustained Week 1 vs. Oakland. James returned for action in Week 8 at Indianapolis and only played about 20 snaps before reaggravating the knee. 

Fast forward to Week 14 and the Broncos are preparing for Houston. James was working to get himself ready for the Texans, where he played essentially the entire first half. 

"So then I practiced, I think it was for two weeks to try to get back and get ready for the Houston game," James said. "The plan going into it was to play for the half, and I ended up playing the half, but all through especially the second quarter, my knee was just giving out on me. So after talking to the coaches and trainers and stuff like that, and the second opinion with the doctor, and he was like, 'Hey, man. We don't feel you'll need surgery. But the doctor said before if you put a brace on it, you should be all right. But you went out in the Colts game and re-tore some stuff'. So, he said, 'Your ligaments need time to heal'. So I'm just really trying to get this healed so I don't have to worry about it in the offseason and next year, so next season I can be fully healthy and put this behind me."

The veracity of James' side of the story might be challenged down the line by the Broncos' brass but if he really tore ligaments, it's no wonder he was unable to work back into the lineup. The question is, why didn't the Broncos place him on injured reserve if the team knew his injury was that serious? 

Perhaps we'll get some context later in the week when Coach Fangio meets with the media, or at worst, when GM John Elway holds his end-of-season press conference next week. 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen and @MileHighHuddle.

Comments (12)
No. 1-10
Brew77
Brew77

Sorry but I believe this is James embellishing the story to make himself look better. A MRI can reveal torn ligaments and there is no reason for the Broncos not to say he tore ligaments and try to hide this injury. Like you said Chad if this injury was that serious there no reason why the Broncos wouldn’t have put him on IR not only for him to have the time to heal he’s saying he didn’t get. But it would have also opened up his roster spot for a player that could have helped them during the season. Seems like we’ve got your typical he said she said situation and it on top at least seems a James is trying to paint a different picture for those that are questioning his toughness. I’m like you Chad I can wait to see what Elway and Fangio have to say on this I’m sure they probably won’t say much publicly but privately I’m sure both are pissed because it paints the Broncos medical staff as inept and seems like they are just trying to push an injured player back on the field which is crap. I think this is just the beginning of this story James did the same in Miami milking injuries and getting his toughness questioned and it seems he is doing the same in Denver.

Broncos61
Broncos61

“The first quarter was all right and then I went to hit a linebacker and after that, the buckling started and it started giving out on me,” he said. “Going into it, the plan was to play a half. I said to (offensive line coach Mike Munchak), ‘It’s giving out on me,’ and he said, ‘I understand.’”

Upon returning to the Denver area, James underwent an MRI and doctors told him,

“You tore another part of your MCL during the game.”

Denverkewl
Denverkewl

He was never truly medically cleared to play. Or he should not have been...

EchoChamber
EchoChamber

I don't see why James would be misleading. I'm not happy with that signing but I tend to believe James over anything the Broncos might say.

smilinassassin
smilinassassin

Andrew Mason had a good idea in that they should have an independent third party doctor look at it and give their prognosis.

Regardless, one or both parties will end up looking really bad here. The main thing to keep in mind for fans is that, regardless of who is in the wrong, Denver is still paying a lot of money for a guy not being on the field.

CUBuffinTX
CUBuffinTX

If this is 50% fact I can completely understand why he did not play. What I don't understand is why everybody piles on James and Callahan seems to walk between the rain drops. They both have injury history, and both have done absolutely nothing for the money they have been paid. Yet week in and week out its James that gets burned at the stake. Both have been complete disappointments

Kebby77
Kebby77

Imagine if we had Trent Brown at RT and Ryan Ramchzyk at LT. That could've happened. And we should've resigned Veldheer as a veteran backup. He played well last year and can play both tackle positions. And hes low cost.

Weswesyall
Weswesyall

Prayers he makes a better recovery than TD did back in '99. Denver needs an O Line.

OurGMsucks
OurGMsucks

Was James ever A dairy farmer? He sure knows how to milk the cow 😁.

Chad Jensen
Chad Jensen

Editor

That's part of what makes this so strange. The team said he'd been cleared. He's saying he had torn ligaments. A disconnect.


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