ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The Denver Broncos running back situation isn’t the microscopic competition that takes place at the quarterback, but it could be the training camp’s biggest unknown, aside from what happens to Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater.
Melvin Gordon’s RB1 status, the role of the rookie nominee in the second round, Javonte Williams, the vision of free agent signatory Mike Boone and what exactly is happening to Royce Freeman are topics currently on the table.
“There is enough work for everyone,” said Broncos coach Vic Fangio before the start of the training camp. ” … We like [Gordon], we obviously like it [Javonte] Williams and we like [Mike] Boone. So you never have enough back and I am confident that there will be enough work for everyone. “
Ah, but the division of labor, now comes the catch.
The pads went on Tuesday so the Broncos’ backs are still in the early stages to show what they can do in a full contact workout. However, one thing has been clear since the first snapshot of their offseason program: it will be different with RB1. It’s difficult to imagine a scenario where Gordon’s touch count doesn’t go down when Williams and Boone are healthy.
Gordon, after suffering knee and hip injuries and a concussion on the way to the injured reserve, ended the 2020 season as the Broncos leader at Carrys (215), Rushing Yards (986) and Rushing Touchdowns (nine). But with the arrival of General Manager George Paton came a slightly modified view of the backcourt.
Lindsay’s restricted tender for free agents was overturned by the Broncos and he was sent to the open market (signed in Houston). The Broncos hired Boone as a freelance agency and rose in the second round of the draft in April to select Williams. Paton named Williams “one of our favorite players in the draft,” and said Boone, who played for the Vikings during Paton’s tenure as assistant general manager, can make an important contribution.
Williams, who led Major College Football in Broken Tackles last season, is expected to show his strength-speed combination in the preseason and has already shown the Broncos a lot of comfort in the passing game.
“I’m just showing that I’m not one-dimensional,” said Williams. “I can play games. I can do things like that. A lot of people said I was just a downhill runner. … One thing I worked on a lot when I went home was catching the ball. Because I know that in the league you have to be able to do more than just run if you want to last a long time. “
What that means for Gordon’s workload remains to be seen. And Gordon, who admitted last week that he was “too caught up” by training camp in his competition with Lindsay last summer, says he’s taking a bigger approach this time.
“[I have the] I am very confident that I will get out of here and work. So when I touch the field I do what I have to do when my number gets called, “said Gordon.” I can’t worry about who I’m competing with. .. I will always grind and I will always get it. I’ll do what I have to do to help this team win. Because of that, I’m here.”
When asked how he was “caught up” in the fight with Lindsay – a Denver native – Gordon added:
“A lot of people love Phil here. … they feel like you are taking away their guy. It was a little on my mind. I got over it and sort of dealt with what it was. We’re going to share this thing and we’re going to do our pieces. “
The preseason games could give a better look at the rotation, but when Gordon stayed away from the Broncos ‘offseason workouts, apart from the two days of training at the mandatory minicamp, the Broncos named Williams’ number copiously and rookie reacted. Williams and Boone shared most of the work with the starters while the team went through OTAs and mini-camps.
So far, all three have worked a bit with the starters in the training camp. And none of that includes if the Broncos used Royce Freeman, a third round election in the 2018 draft.
Until Gordon’s DUI charges were dismissed in March – he pleaded guilty to driving ruthlessly after being arrested last October – his guaranteed salary was something the Broncos could have voided. But after those charges are dismissed, Gordon’s base salary of $ 4.5 million remains guaranteed and he received a roster bonus of $ 2 million when he checked in at camp last week.
Bottom line, Fangio has promised the running game will be an important part of his quest to make the Broncos “more physical” on offense.
“The story out there that the ball is passed a lot more than it used to be in the NFL really isn’t that true,” said Fangio. “I did a study of it this year, and from 1980 to date the passes have increased by four points, something percent. You still have to be able to run and stop it. Yes, some teams rely on you more than the others. ” but running the ball is still very important. “