Following a standout rookie season foreshadowing a superstar-like career, Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams suffered a significant setback with a devastating knee injury early into his second year campaign.
While it’s worth mentioning that Williams is reportedly bouncing back at an unprecedented rate and may very well be ready to start the season, depth remains a necessity in the event of a setback (or in the event he needs to brought about slowly). With Melvin butterfingers Gordon a thing of the past, it was imperative that the Broncos brought in an immediate impact back, either by way of draft or free agency.
The team opted for the latter, bringing in former Cincinnati Bengal Samaje Perine in to be the secondary back to Williams who could also fill in as primary back in a pinch.
The man who rushed for over 4,000 yards as a college star at Oklahoma and who has proven to be a valuable blocking back in his professional career. Perine, still young at 27 years of age, hopes to bring back the Broncos offense.
Height: 5’11” | Weight: 240 pounds
Age: 27 | Experience: Seventh season
Perine finished 2022 rushing for 394 yards on 95 carries to go along with a career-high 287 receiving yards on 38 receptions. He has yet to replicate his impressive rookie campaign, in which he rushed for 603 yards on 175 carries, but when given a heavy load to carry, he has shown a knack for delivering when called upon.
Broncos running back Samaje Perine’s 2023 outlook
Javonte Williams, if all goes according to plan, will be the primary back in Sean Payton’s offense. However, Payton is known to utilize multiple backs throughout his career, and Perine has the resume and skill set to be among the league’s most productive secondary backs.
His most valuable asset as a professional to date is his blocking prowess out of the backfield, a skill that will no doubt be utilized, but he is also a more than capable runner. He received numerous accolades as a college back, including an All-American nod, and when he has been given the opportunity, he has shown the ability to go for 100+ yards on the ground.
At the very least, he’ll be expected to be a valuable blocker and third down back. At best, he’ll be someone who will carry the load when called upon while holding onto the football, unlike past Broncos running backs.
Given Williams’ injury and the lack of depth at the position, it was a bit of a surprise to see the Broncos pass on all running backs in the NFL Draft, but the signing of Perine adds another dimension to the Broncos backfield.
At just 27 years old, he doesn’t have the wear and tear of guys his age who have been primary backs, so he has plenty in the tank to give the Broncos a legitimate threat out of the backfield in both the run and pass game.
Williams, if he passes all the tests, should carry the bulk of the workload, and if camp sensation Jaleel McLaughlin can translate his standout play to the regular season field, it may mean only situational appearances for Perine, but that’s okay.
As aforementioned, Sean Payton is a wizard when it comes to utilizing multiple backs, and (although it may terrorize fantasy football owners), the coach is almost certain to have a game plan to benefit all of them.
Assuming he stays healthy, Perine may prove to be among the most valuable secondary backs in the NFL this season.