Fangio Gives Lukewarm Prognosis On Injured Broncos OT Ja'Wuan James
Some players take longer than others to heal and recover from injury. For Denver Broncos right tackle Ja'Wuan James, it feels like it's taken forever for him to bounce back from the knee sprain he suffered 10 snaps into the season-opener.
Adding insult to injury is the beleaguered performance of James' replacement at right tackle, Elijah Wilkinson. Though Wilkinson has been admirable in his willingness and enthusiasm to step into the breach, he's often been a liability in pass protection.
With the Tennessee Titans coming to Denver for a Week 6 bout, James has been a limited participant in practice. Though he's been well enough to return to the practice field for two consecutive weeks, it doesn't sound like he's even close to returning for Week 6.
“He’s coming along OK," head coach Vic Fangio said on Thursday. "Just OK.”
You can hear the disappointment in Fangio's voice. What's holding James back? After all, it was a knee sprain and it happened on September 9, more than a month ago now.
Was it simply a more severe injury than the team let on, or is it a matter of getting back into football shape?
“It’s both," Fangio said. "Getting back into it after such long layoff is an issue, and that’s mainly the biggest issue, but he’s still feeling his way with the injury.”
If that's the case, definitely don't expect Ja'Wuan James to make any sort of miraculous leap forward before Sunday rolls around. After the Broncos signed James to a four-year, $51 million contract back in March, it seemed like a solid move.
The only way it could go off the rails is if the injury bug struck. And that's just what happened...two series into the Broncos' 2019 season. Crap luck.
We probably shouldn't be surprised, though, as James has only been available for all 16 games twice in his career since entering the league as a Miami Dolphins' first-round pick back in 2014. He's a talented player.
But Ja'Wuan James embodies the old NFL cliche; 'the best ability is avail-ability'. And the bitter truth is, he hasn't been available for his team and there doesn't appear to be a timetable for his return.