In the NFL, almost anything is possible, but only rarely do you see a high-usage running back trio. Since we likely won’t see the Broncos in the playoffs this year, I thought a good time to ask the question, “Can Broncos’ Melvin Gordon, Javonte Williams and Mike Boone all get carries? – Denver Broncos Blog”
The Denver Broncos are playing four preseason games this year, and each one will serve as a small window into how the roster is shaping up for the season. As we get ready for the NFL season, here are four questions to ask as we head into the preseason:
With the Denver Broncos finalizing their 53-man roster and practice squad, the battle for the team’s third running back spot continues unabated. So far, the battle has boiled down to three contenders: rookie running back Devontae Booker, free agent running back Justin Forsett, and former Bronco running back Mike Boone. Each has some advantages and disadvantages to his resume..
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Although the Denver Broncos’ running back position isn’t as scrutinized as the quarterback battle, it might be the greatest uncertainty of training camp, apart from what happens to Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater.
Melvin Gordon’s RB1 position, the role of rookie second-round selection Javonte Williams, free-agent signee Mike Boone’s vision, and what happens to Royce Freeman are all topics that are presently being discussed.
Before the start of training camp, Broncos coach Vic Fangio remarked, “There’s enough work for everyone.” “… We admire [Gordon], we admire [Javonte] Williams, and we admire [Mike] Boone. As a result, you can never have enough backs, and I’m sure that there will be enough work for everyone.”
The division of labor, on the other hand, is the stumbling block.
“I can’t be concerned about who I’m competing against,” Melvin Gordon, a running back for the Denver Broncos, stated. “… I’m always going to grind, and I’m always going to get it. I’ll do everything it takes to assist this squad win. That is why I have come.” David Zalubowski/AP Photo
The pads arrived on Tuesday, so the Broncos’ running backs are in the early steps of demonstrating their abilities in a full-contact session. Since the first snap of their offseason training, one thing has been clear: things will be different at RB1. When Williams and Boone are healthy, it’s impossible to see Gordon’s touch count not dropping.
Gordon led the Broncos in carries (215), running yards (986) and rushing touchdowns (10) in 2020, after Phillip Lindsay sustained knee and hip ailments as well as a concussion on his way to injured reserve (nine). However, with the appointment of general manager George Paton, the outlook on the backfield was somewhat altered.
The Broncos revoked Lindsay’s restricted free-agent tender, and he was forced to enter the open market (signed in Houston). The Broncos signed Boone in free agency and selected Williams in the second round of the April draft. Williams is “one of our favorite players in the draft,” according to Paton, who also believes Boone, who played for the Vikings during Paton’s time as deputy general manager, can be a key contributor.
Williams, who led major college football in broken tackles last season, is expected to demonstrate his power/quickness combo in the preseason, and has already showed the Broncos that he is at ease in the passing game.
“I’m simply demonstrating that I’m not a one-dimensional person,” Williams said. “I know how to put on a show. That’s something I’m capable of. Many people have told me that I’m simply a downhill runner. When I got home, one of the things I worked on a lot was catching the ball. Because I’m aware that in the league, if you want to be in the game for a long time, you must be able to do more than just run.”
It’s unclear what this implies for Gordon’s workload. And Gordon, who acknowledged last week that he got “too caught up” in his rivalry with Lindsay during training camp last summer, says he’s taking a more strategic approach this time.
“I have the greatest faith in myself to come out here and work,” Gordon said. “So when my number is called, I do what I need to do.” “I can’t be concerned about who I’m up against… I’m always going to grind, and I’m always going to get it. I’ll do everything it takes to assist this squad win. That is why I have come.”
When asked how he became “entrapped” in the fight with Lindsay, a Denver native, Gordon replied:
“Many individuals in this town adore Phil… They believe you are depriving them of their man. It lingered in my mind for a while. I got over it and dealt with the situation as best I could. We’re going to share this thing and create our own plays, I added.”
Reporters from NFL Nation break down each division to help you prepare for the season.
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The preseason games may provide a clearer look at the rotation, but while Gordon was absent from the Broncos’ summer training, except for two days of required minicamp practice, the Broncos dialed Williams’ phone often, and the youngster answered. As the club proceeded through OTAs and minicamp, Williams and Boone shared the work with the starters.
So far in training camp, all three have worked with the starters in some capacity. None of this includes the addition of Royce Freeman, the Broncos’ third-round selection in the 2018 draft.
Gordon’s guaranteed salary was up for grabs until his DUI charges were dropped in March (he pleaded guilty to careless driving after an incident last October). Gordon’s $4.5 million basic pay is guaranteed now that the allegations against him have been dropped, and he earned a $2 million roster bonus when he arrived to camp last week.
In the end, Fangio has said that the run game will play an important role in the Broncos’ desire to become “more physical” on offense.
“The notion that the ball is being passed a lot more in the NFL than it used to be is just not accurate,” Fangio said. “Passes have risen four-point-something percent since 1980, according to a research I conducted this year. You must still be able to start and stop it. Yes, certain teams depend on one more than others, but the ability to run the ball is still crucial.”
The Denver Broncos have a running back depth chart that could make or break the team’s season. The team’s youngest back, RB Michael Boone, has yet to see meaningful action and hasn’t participated in the team’s off-season workouts due to a hamstring injury. RBs Devontae Booker and Kapri Bibbs have struggled with injuries as well and have been unable to be a consistent force on the ground. Meanwhile, veteran RB C.J. Anderson signed with the team in the off-season but has failed to live up to his expectations and has been replaced by RB Jamaal Charles.