ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Melvin Gordon lives life loud and with candor. When he conducts a one-on-one interview or steps to the podium, one thing is certain: he will be interesting.
Gordon proved it again Wednesday after the Broncos workout leading up to Saturday's preseason road game at Buffalo. Gordon has been seeing first-team reps, but not the first first-team reps. In his eighth season in the NFL, he believes he knows what that means, a conclusion from which he draws motivation.
"To be honest, I think they might have a plan on what they want, kind of hidden in. But as far as rotation, I really don’t know. I think they want Javonte (Williams) to be the guy," Gordon said matter-of-factly. "I kind of want to put my best foot forward so when I do get that opportunity, they want to use me more. I know I can still play. I know I still got the juice, man.”
Gordon and Williams posted an identical 203 carries last season. Gordon rushed for 918 yards, Williams for 903. Gordon posted 10 touchdowns. Williams finished with seven. Gordon told Denver7 two weeks ago that he hopes there is room for both players because they are "too talented" to be on the sideline. Williams indicated he understands if they share the load because it keeps them fresh and more tread on the tire.
"Just our playing style goes together, it’s a change of pace. You get something different every time," Williams told Denver7.
Coach Nathaniel Hackett has packages for them to play together. Ultimately, who starts might not matter. When the Broncos won Super Bowl 50, Ronnie Hillman led the team in rushing during the season, but C.J. Anderson spearheaded the running game in the playoffs. Sometimes one back starts and another finishes. A.J. Dillion paced the Packers in rushing a year ago with Hackett as the coordinator, and Aaron Jones delivered six receiving touchdowns.
Looking at their skillset, it is easy to see how Williams and Gordon can both contribute. They are plow horses with soft hands, capable on the ground and in the passing game on third down. And let's keep it real. The Broncos have not reached the playoffs in six years. They need good players, meaning it's about Hackett finding fits to maximize the pair.
"I am a competitor, I want to compete. If you take that away, then the love is kind of gone. In my head, I tell myself it's not the case (where a decision has been made). You have to earn it. That keeps me focused," said Gordon, who is on a one-year deal.
"And just be consistent. You never know how the future will play out with anything, but you just have to go out there and ball out. You have to make every opportunity count, whether it’s the same or less as last year. I have to do what it takes —'Hack’ told me coming in, it’s about the Super Bowl. It’s about winning the Super Bowl and we are going to do whatever is best for the team. I’m bought into that 100 percent because I want the ring more than anything. I do feel like I can help this team, so when I get in, I have to show that.”
Nickel for Your Thoughts
K'Waun Williams was a sneaky, if not necessary addition this offseason. He is a solid slot corner, and there was a drop-off in play when he was sidelined during camp with a knee injury. He has returned and is gaining traction, while enjoying playing with corners Pat Surtain II and Ronald Darby and safeties Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson.
"We have a lot of versatility and a lot of guys that have been in this league a long time. We also have some young talent across the board," Williams said. "All those guys can compete and play at a high level, so it’s just been exciting to be able to work with those guys."
Receiver K.J. Hamler is working back from hip and knee injuries, spending his time on the side field. He has not practiced with the team in a week due to leg soreness unrelated to the previous injuries, but hopes to return to 11- on-11 work on Thursday.
"He’s been working so hard. Again, it’s such a unique injury with what he had that we just want to be sure that we’re smart with it. Yes, we want him out there, but we just, we don’t want to have any setbacks or anything like that," Hackett said.
Center Lloyd Cushenberry (right knee) watched practice for the second straight day, his rest viewed as maintenance.
Hackett has not decided if Brett Rypien or Josh Johnson will start at Buffalo, but said they will split the reps. Johnson appears the frontrunner for the backup job.