Broncos running back Javonte Williams started out strong in his second year in the NFL last season before suffering a devastating knee injury in Week 4.

Williams tore his ACL, LCL and PLC (posterolateral corner) in his right knee, which not only ended his season, but led many observers to wonder if he could return by the start of the 2023 season.

Denver has become increasingly hopeful that he could be ready by Week 1, as Williams was able to participate in Thursday’s OTA practice on a limited basis. It may not seem like much in the month of May, but given the extent of Williams’s injury last fall, this is a significant step in his recovery.

New Broncos coach Sean Payton elaborated on Williams after practice on Thursday.

“Listen, we do a medical report every night,” Payton began. “We list the players as full, limited or out. He’s working in a limited capacity. We are being smart. Obviously, and I said this to you before, we were encouraged heading into this time of the season. It’s good to have him out here.”

If Williams is out to start the regular season, expect Samaje Perine to carry the load, much like he did in Cincinnati when Joe Mixon was out of the lineup. When Williams is healthy and ready to go, Williams and Perine will provide a strong one-two punch to the Denver backfield to make life easier on quarterback Russell Wilson.