Nobody could’ve predicted the trainwreck that Denver Broncos fans are enduring. Denver has made a sixth consecutive losing season a certainty.
Combined with the arrival of first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett and his new staff, landing quarterback Russell Wilson was supposed to transform the fate of the franchise.
Instead, the 3-9 Broncos limp into a Week 14 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs at Mile High amid a 13-game losing streak at the hands of their division rival that dates back to 2015. The keyword above is limp, as the Broncos currently have 16 players on injured reserve and have been the NFL's most banged-up team since players started dropping in training camp.
But the fans, the NFL, and the Chiefs couldn't care less about the Broncos' injury woes with five games left in the season. Suffice to say, the Hackett/Wilson offense could benefit from the services of its bruiser running back Javonte Williams, whom the Broncos have been without since placing him on IR in early October.
The second-year featured back from North Carolina not only suffered an ACL tear in Week 4 against the Las Vegas Raiders, but also a torn LCL and damage to his posterior lateral corner. Some argued that Williams’ brutal knee injury spelled disaster for what remained of the Broncos' season, as ‘Pookie’ was the team's most legitimate offensive weapon.
But the good news is, Williams is healing and rehabbing well heading into the holiday season. Although the ACL tear was devastating, there was not any nerve or cartilage damage, which spelled relief for both Williams and the Broncos.
The Broncos' team website caught up with Williams this week and updated his recovery status.
"Injury [recovery] is going good," Williams said during a charity event that supports children in foster care, sponsored by the Javonte Williams Foundation. "I'm off the crutches; just continuing to rehab and just trying to get back on the field as quickly as I can. I'm really just listening to everything my doctors say, and just take every day of rehab as a practice and as a game, because that's pretty much my game day and my practices, just going to rehab. So, I'm attacking that just like I attack everything else."
Attacking trials and tribulations has always been a part of Williams’ mentality. Coming out of high school, he garnered just one FBS offer to play college football and was valedictorian of his class, boasting a 4.0 GPA. Williams won four consecutive state championships, including MVPs.
Before North Carolina offered him a scholarship, Williams was considering a biology major as strictly a student at Chapel Hill. Success for the Tar Heels quickly followed Williams’ workload as he racked up 2020 ACC Football Player of the Year honors in addition to being named a second-team All-American.
Fast forward to Broncos GM George Paton selecting the 5-foot-10, 220-pounder in the second round of the 2021 draft (No. 35), and he quite literally burst onto the NFL scene. As a rookie last season, Williams played in 17 games, logging 903 yards and four touchdowns, hauling in 43 receptions for three additional scores. He was named to the 2021 PFWA All-Rookie Team and was frequented on NFL Network’s ‘Angry Runs' segments.
Although Williams split the backfield with Melvin Gordon, it was evident that Williams was a home-run hit, as fans witnessed his blue-collar, old-school approach to running the football — something that Broncos backs were once revered for.
Fellow Broncos back Mike Boone, who recently returned from IR to the active roster due to an ankle injury, chimed in on Williams’ hard work and seemingly good prognosis via the team’s website last week.
"I saw him walking the other day," Boone said, "and I was like, 'They need to get him a pair of cleats! He looks good!'"
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