ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The last 48 hours for running back Latavius Murray have been, to say the least, a whirlwind.
The 10-year NFL veteran and former Pro Bowler was a member of the Saints' practice squad since early in the season. But with running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram II at the top of the depth chart, the only action Murray saw through his first two weeks with New Orleans was on the practice field.
On Sunday, that all changed.
Across the pond in London to face the Vikings in the first game of this season's NFL International Series, Murray was elevated from the practice squad on Saturday afternoon, as Kamara was listed as questionable with a rib injury. Murray's role for the game remained unclear until about 30 minutes before kickoff on Sunday, when Kamara was officially announced as inactive.
With the Saints' first-string running back unavailable, Murray suddenly had an opportunity to play — and he made the most of it.
Despite just being elevated from the practice squad the day before, Murray led the team in rushing attempts, earning one more carry than Ingram. On 11 carries, he rushed for 57 yards and a touchdown, averaging over five yards per carry. While the Saints ultimately fell to the Vikings after a last-second field-goal attempt "double-doinked" off the upright and the crossbar, Murray's performance gave New Orleans a chance to win.
Several hours after shining in his season debut with the Saints, Murray learned that Javonte Williams suffered a serious injury during the Broncos' game against the Raiders. As a practice-squad player, Murray was open to opportunities — and this was a big one.
"My first reaction — I knew Javonte went down with an injury, and so I just knew it was an opportunity," Murray said Tuesday.
After a nearly 10-hour flight back from London, the Saints landed in New Orleans at 2 a.m. on Monday morning. Murray spent a good portion of the day at the Saints' practice facility before receiving a text from his agent: With Williams suffering a season-ending injury, the Broncos were interested in bringing him to Denver.
Murray finalized the details with his agent throughout the afternoon, and by Monday night, he was on a flight to Colorado. Less than two days after playing his first game of the season in London with the Saints, Murray officially became a Denver Bronco.
"We discussed some things, had to obviously communicate with the Saints as well, but [I'm] just happy to be here," Murray said. "[I] hopped on a flight late, like 7:50 [p.m.] in New Orleans, and got in at midnight last night."
As Murray joins a new team, Denver's personnel are not entirely unfamiliar to him; General Manager George Paton was in Minnesota's front office during Murray's two years as a Viking, and that connection contributed to his decision to become a Bronco.
"Obviously when you have a familiar face and you've worked with somebody before, I think that definitely makes things a lot easier," Murray said. "Even [Head] Coach [Nathaniel] Hackett, I met him when he was in Jacksonville, so I think those things help out for sure."
When asked about the addition of Murray on Tuesday, Hackett expressed his excitement for what the veteran running back can contribute to the team.
"[I've] known Latavius for a while now, and he is another great pro," Hackett said. "We might have some of the biggest running backs in the league right now, and just having that guy, a guy that has done it for so long, has tons of experience, can pass-pro, can catch, is something that's great for our team. And also, as a person and as a leader, I'm very happy that he's here."
Hackett and Murray have not indicated whether he will play on Thursday, but Murray noted that he is working hard to learn the Broncos' playbook. There are certain elements that carry over between offenses, he explained, and he is confident that he will be able to quickly get a grip on the scheme.
As Murray looks to step into Williams' place and become an impactful player for Denver, his enthusiasm for being a Bronco was palpable even on his first day in the facility.
"There was a lot of conversation around this team, a lot of conversation around this division in the offseason," Murray said. "Heard great things about the locker room, and I'm obviously in it right now, and so far, everything is what I've been told. I'm just excited. Excited to be here, I'm excited to go to work and bring another 'chip' back."