ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Eleven months ago, Javonte Williams was not supposed to play in Week 1 of the 2023 season.
Less than two weeks ago, Jerry Jeudy was not supposed to play in Week 1 of the season.
Both could defy the odds on Sunday.
Not only will Denver’s powerful running back officially play in a regular season game for the first time since suffering a torn ACL, LCL and PCL on Oct. 2, 2022, he’ll have a significant role on Sunday against the same team he suffered the devastating injury against.
“He’s going to play a big role,” Sean Payton said following Wednesday’s practice. “We feel like he’s moving well. He is strong and healthy. Preseason was important for him, but more important is the hours he put into the rehab.”
The exact number of snaps Williams will play will be determined by the flow of the game, but the former second-round pick has had very little, if any, limitations throughout training camp and the preseason.
“I haven’t put together a [snap] number for him,” the head coach said.
“Generally speaking, if you are converting on third down, there are a number of things that happen when you end up having a lot of rushing snaps,” Payton added. “We feel like him and [Samaje] Perine give us—I don’t want to say similar backs. The obviously, we have a little different dimension with Jaleel [McLaughlin].”
Listed as the starting running back on the unofficial depth chart, Williams’ presence will be key as Payton is expected to want to run the Broncos’ offense through the ground game.
But when Payton does want to turn the keys over to Russell Wilson and the passing attack against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, the Broncos might have all of their starting receivers available.
On Aug. 24, Jeudy left joint practice with the Los Angeles Rams on a cart after sustaining a hamstring injury. It was reported he would be out several weeks, putting the season opener in doubt.
However, on Wednesday, during the team’s first true regular season practice leading up to Sunday’s game, No. 10 was on the field running routes. Jeudy was listed as a limited participant in practice.
As Sean Payton attempts to jumpstart the NFL’s worst offense from a year ago, having all of the firepower at his disposal will be key.
Wednesday was an encouraging sign that Payton could have Williams and Jeudy on Sunday against the Raiders.