ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams, who suffered a torn ACL in Week 4 last season, said Sunday “the plan” is for him to be cleared for the start of training camp and to participate at least some in practices after the team’s veteran players report July 25.
Asked Sunday at a football camp he hosted with Broncos cornerback Pat Surtain II if he would be medically cleared for training camp, Williams said: “I mean, that’s the plan. I feel like I’m ready to go.”
Williams, who was a second-round draft pick by the Broncos in 2021 and made the league’s All-Rookie team that season, suffered a torn ACL and LCL in his right knee in the Broncos’ Oct. 2 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, has continued to work with the team’s training staff as well as strength and conditioning staff in recent weeks.
“It’s just all about the evaluation, how the Broncos feel about it,” Williams said. “… Just seeing how I feel, moving, just trying to get my speed back to normal, things like that.”
Broncos coach Sean Payton consistently said throughout the team’s offseason program he believed Williams would be ready for the start of training camp, but Sunday was the most definitive response from Williams.
The Broncos have shown that confidence throughout the offseason given they did not use one of their five draft picks on a deep running back class and eschewed a long list of higher-profile veterans available in free agency to sign Samaje Perine, who hasn’t had more than 95 carries in a season since he was a rookie in 2017.
“I’m very excited,” Surtain said Sunday. “Vonte looks good, I can’t wait for him to get back out there and play with the fellas.”
Williams’ powerful, tackle-breaking style made him one of the team’s most popular young players and launched him to 903 yards rushing as a rookie. He had 204 yards rushing in 47 carries last season before his injury.
Williams, who said he will continue to practice with a brace on his surgically repaired knee, said Sunday he believes he has cleared the mental hurdles to continue to play with that physical style.
The third-year running back said he has spoken at length during his recovery with former Broncos linebacker Bradley Chubb, as well as Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick and Broncos linebacker Aaron Patrick. All of those players have suffered ACL tears in their career — both Tim Patrick and Aaron Patrick last season.
“Just the mental part, being to be able to move like you have your whole life,” Williams said. “For the first two months, you’re just kind of sitting in bed trying to get it to bend all over again. That’s the hardest part. [But] that’s who I got to be, that’s who I’ve been my whole life. I don’t want to get back on the field playing scared or timid, so when I do get back out there, I want to be 100%.”