It's no secret that rookie running back Javonte Williams has shined on Sundays during his first NFL season, racking up yards after contact and churning out highlights each week. But Williams has also impressed the Broncos with the maturity and dedication he brings to the game, according to ESPN's Jeff Legwold.
"He's a rookie by classification, but not by play and demeanor and professionalism," Head Coach Vic Fangio said. "He doesn't act like a rookie at all. The guy is really good."
On the field, Williams has earned a reputation in the league for being a difficult back to bring down — he consistently turns a potential loss of yards into a big gain by breaking tackles and evading defenders.
"Williams will take a 2-yard run and turn it into a 7-yard run but then somehow make it a 13-yard run, as he plows through multiple defenders and stays on his feet so long that a Broncos offensive lineman will often join the fray to shove him forward," Legwold wrote.
One of the offensive lineman regularly propelling Williams towards the end zone is fellow rookie Quinn Meinerz.
"Oh, it's awesome," Meinerz said. "He's one of those running backs that's constantly chugging his feet. That's why if I don't get a great block [or] a great fit on whatever I'm doing, [I'll try to give] just that little extra shove so that way the defender can't get a clean shot on Javonte. He'll bounce right off and keep moving those yards."
Williams' rookie season has been so impressive that he has drawn comparisons to many talented backs, including a Hall of Famer.
"He reminds me a little bit of probably the best back I've been with on a team," Fangio said, "I'm not going to say he's there yet, but Edgerrin James. He kind of runs a little bit like Edgerrin, is [as] a complete player as Edgerrin."
With two games left in the regular season, Williams sits at 827 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. With a pair of solid performances over the next two weeks, Williams could eclipse 1,000 yards in his first NFL season.
But whether he hits that mark or not, Williams' rookie campaign has exceeded expectations for the Broncos, who can look forward to many highlight-reel runs in the years to come.
"Williams, who the Broncos quickly moved up in the second round to snare last April, has been every bit of the tackle-breaking, double-take-making runner the Broncos hoped," Legwold wrote.
Below the Fold
The Broncos suffered a tough loss in their Week 16 road matchup vs. the Raiders, but outside linebacker Bradley Chubb was a bright spot in the divisional bout as he recorded his first career interception.
"The outside linebacker provided a silver lining in Sunday's 17-13 loss to the silver-and-black, setting up the Broncos for their lone touchdown and giving Denver hope against Las Vegas," the Denver Post's Kyle Newman wrote.
Chubb, who returned in late November after spending the bulk of the season on injured reserve with an ankle injury, made a stellar defensive play near the end of the second quarter.
"Chubb batted and then intercepted Derek Carr's attempted swing pass in the waning seconds of the second quarter, then returned the pick to the 1-yard line," Newman wrote.
"Before the play we met on the field, and (outside linebackers) coach (John Pagano) alerted us to the screen because that's what they like to do with 30 seconds left, try to get a little chunk play in," Chubb said. "During the play (the offensive line and I) had a game going, and as I was coming around (to try to get in the pocket), I saw the running back going out and I was able to stay back and tip it up."
Chubb's big play set up a one-yard score byWilliams, sending Denver into halftime with a lead. The game was one of Chubb's best performances of the season and a reminder of everything he can bring to the Broncos defense when healthy.