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Broncos HC Sean Payton: RB Javonte Williams (ACL) to play in preseason

Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams continues his positive recovery from last season's torn ACL.

Head coach Sean Payton said on Thursday that Williams is at the point where the club is confident he'll make an appearance in preseason action. The team could wait until the second preseason tilt (Aug. 19 against the 49ers) to test drive the back, Payton added.

"He'll get reps," Payton told reporters. "It may be we'll wait 'til Week 2. We haven't gone over the outline of plays yet, but I like how he's progressing."

Williams was cleared for contact last week, a positive sign after he suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 4.

The 23-year-old said last week that doctors initially pegged his recovery timeline at 12 months, but he's been ahead of that pace throughout rehab.

"I feel like when I really started hitting my speeds on the GPS and just seeing how fast I was running, I was like, 'Oh, I might be [back] a little bit earlier,'" Williams said, via the team's official website. "And then just hitting my numbers in the weight room, getting back in the weight room, hitting my maxes, things like that. I was like, 'It's stronger than I think it is' or what everybody else is saying."

Williams added in an interview with NFL Network's James Palmer this week that he's optimistic he'll be ready to start come the season-opener.

"This is probably the biggest hurdle I was working on, just putting all the pads back on feeling the weight, the heat, things like that," Williams said on Tuesday. "But I mean, everything has been feeling good, so I feel like I'm ready to go."

Teams tend to take a cautious approach with players returning from season-ending injuries, so the Broncos' confidence to give Williams even a little run in preseason action is an excellent sign for his availability to open the 2023 campaign. The next step will be to see if the explosive, violent runner we knew before the injury is fully back early in the season.

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