Tar Heels in NFL: Javonte show runs onto national TV stage Thursday

By R.L. Bynum

If you don’t subscribe to NFL Season Ticket and have been frustrated that you haven’t been able to watch Javonte Williams’ games live, your frustrations are over — at least for one week.

Williams and the Denver Broncos will play in the Thursday night game against the Cleveland Browns at 8:20, and you can watch it on NFL Network or your local Fox affiliate (WRAZ in the Triangle.)

His running style, familiar to Tar Heels fans, is turning heads around the league. The latest example was a run last Sunday when he hurdled over a would-be tackler.

It’s led to a lot of questions about how he evolved into that kind of running back.

“I try to always try to break at least one tackle every time I get the ball,” Williams said in an interview this week on Denver radio station KOA. “It probably came from me playing linebacker all those years and me just switching to running back and keeping that mentality.”

He’s had a good bit of success running to the outside but that’s not his preference.

“I really like running inside more, honestly, just because that gaps teams play and things like that, I feel like I read those better than when I have to bounce outside,” Williams said.

Williams is third in the league in forced missed tackles with 22, behind only the Browns’ Nick Chubb (28), in his fourth pro season, and Tennessee’s Derrick Henry (26), the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner in his sixth NFL season. Chubb has 90 carries and Henry 162 carries, though, compared to only 65 for Williams.

Chubb is out for Cleveland’s game Thursday because of a calf injury in addition to quarterback Baker Mayfield (shoulder injury).

Williams is second in the NFL in rushing among rookies with 300 yards even though he’s third in rushes. Former Alabama star Najee Harris leads that group with 388 yards for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he has 102 rushes. Former Oklahoma State star Chuba Hubbard of the Carolina Panthers is second in rushes among rookies with 72 but has 281 yards.

Williams is the only player in the league with three runs of at least 30 yards. Henry, the Indianapolis Colts’ Jonathan Taylor (87 carries), the Seattle Seahawks’ Chris Carson (54) and the Arizona Cardinals’ Chase Edmonds (53) each have two such runs.

Much like last season when he shared carries at UNC with Michael Carter, he’s doing that this season with seven-year veteran Melvin Gordon III, who has five more carries and 32 more yards on the season.

Williams says that he takes advantage of the time he’s on the sideline.

“He starts the game and I see how the defense is playing and I just try to see if we missed anything and try to correct it when I go in,” Williams said.

The load has been fairly even, but Gordon has the edge in snaps (54%–45%), percentage of rushing attempts (48%–45%) and two-minute offense usage (69%–31%). Williams has more carries of at least 16 yards than Gordon 7–3.

Denver coach Vic Fangio was asked if Williams could handle 20 or 25 carries in a game.

“I think so,” Fangio told The Denver Post. “He’s a quality back. I don’t think there is any doubt he could.”

Ultimately, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is the man who would make that happen. Some reporters are already calling for more Williams carries.

Gordon is finding out what Carter discovered last season for Carolina, though. When the ball is inside the opponent’s 5-yard line, it’s Javonte time. Williams has a 50%–33% edge in usage inside the 5.


Carter of the New York Jets, who had last weekend off, is seventh among rookies with 165 yards on 47 attempts in five games. The Jets visit New England at 1 p.m. Sunday.

On Tuesday, the Chicago Bears placed linebacker Robert Quinn on the COVID-19 list. The designation means that he’s either tested positive for COVID-19 or has been in close contact with an infected person. On Wednesday, Coach Matt Nagy said that he couldn’t say whether Quinn might play Sunday at Tampa Bay.

There was news Monday that T.J. Logan worked out with the Bears, who have had some running back injuries. No news has come out since then, however, about Logan.

Logan missed the entire 2020 season after August surgery to repair a patellar tendon injury. He has five carries for 12 yards and nine receptions for 50 yards in 22 career games for the Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Washington linebacker Cole Holcomb, after dealing with Patrick Mahomes last week, will have to battle Aaron Rodgers this week when his team visits Green Bay. Holcomb’s 37 solo tackles are third in the league behind only Las Vegas’ Denzel Perryman and Seattle’s Bobby Wagner.

Holcomb, who one writer calls a rising star, often is the only Washington linebacker on the field in the 5–1–5 nickel package with five defensive linemen and five defensive backs.

Charlie Heck should be back in the Houston starting lineup at right tackle when the Texans visit Arizona. It didn’t go well for the Texans at Indianapolis but he showed he belonged on that line.

James Hurst should be back at left tackle for New Orleans for their Monday night game with Seattle after the Saints had last weekend off. According to Pro Football Focus, Hurst’s pass-blocking grade through six weeks of 84.8 is the fifth-best in the NFL.

Wide receiver Mack Hollins started and got the most opportunities since he joined the Miami Dolphins last week in their London loss to Jacksonville. He got that chance because of injuries to Devante Parker (shoulder/hamstring) and Preston Williams (groin). Both participated in Wednesday’s practice but are listed as day-to-day.

Washington wide receiver Dyami Brown, still dealing with a knee issue after starting last week, was limited in practice Wednesday.

Off this weekend are Andre Smith and Mitchell Trubisky of the Buffalo Bills, Chazz Surratt of the Minnesota Vikings and Eric Ebron of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

When Tar Heels play in Week 7

Giovani Bernard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back
vs. Chicago, 4:25 p.m. Sunday, CBS (WNCN in Triangle)
Season statistics — 5 games, 4 rushes, 21 yards; 17 catches, 97 yards (5.7 average, longest 32 yards), 2 TDs, 1 fumble
Dyami Brown, Washington wide receiver
at Green Bay, 1 p.m. Sunday, Fox
Season statistics — 5 games, 8 receptions on 20 targets, 81 yards (10.1 average, longest 22 yards); 1 rush for -4 yards
Michael Carter, New York Jets running back
at New England, 1 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Season statistics — 5 games, 47 carries, 165 yards (3.5 average, longest 14 yards); 9 receptions, 64 yards (7.1 average)
Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers tight end
Off this week; at Cleveland, 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31, CBS
Season statistics — 6 games, 7 reception, 47 yards (6.7 average, longest 19); 1 rush, 1 yard, 1 TD
Charlie Heck, Houston Texans right tackle
at Arizona, 4:25 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Season statistics — 4 games, 2 starts; 136 snaps, 9 special-teams snaps
Cole Holcomb, Washington outside linebacker
at Green Bay, 1 p.m. Sunday, Fox
Season statistics — 6 games, 37 tackles, 21 assists, 2 tackles for losses, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles, 1 interception
Mack Hollins, Miami Dolphins wide receiver
vs. Atlanta, 1 p.m. Sunday, Fox
Season statistics — 6 games, 5 catches, 71 yards; 3 special-teams tackle; 1 tackle
James Hurst, New Orleans Saints left tackle
at Seattle, 8:15 p.m., Monday, ESPN
Season statistics — 5 games; 2 starts; 137 snaps, 18 special-teams snaps
Robert Quinn, Chicago Bears outside linebacker
at Tampa Bay, 4:25 p.m., CBS (WNCN in Triangle)
Season statistics — 6 games, 15 tackles, 4 assists, 6 sacks, 4 tackles for losses, 3 QB hits, 1 forced fumble
Andre Smith, Buffalo Bills weakside linebacker
Off this weekend; vs. Miami, 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31, CBS
Season statistics — 4 games, 2 special-teams tackles, 1 special-teams assist
Chazz Surratt, Minnesota Vikings weakside linebacker
Off this weekend; vs. Dallas, 8:20 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 31, NBC (WRAL in Triangle)
Season statistics — 4 games, no statistics
Mitchell Trubisky, Buffalo Bills quarterback
Off this weekend; vs. Miami, 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31, CBS
Season statistics — 2 games; 2 of 2 passing for 9 yards (longest 8); 10 rushes for 27 yards (longest 22), 85.4 passer rating
Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos running back
at Cleveland, 8:20 p.m. Thursday, Fox (WRAZ in Triangle), NFL Network
Season statistics — 6 games, 65 carries, 300 yards (4.6 average; longest 49 yards), 1 TD; 14 catches, 90 yards (6.4 average, longest 17 yards)
On injured reserve
M.J. Stewart, Cleveland Browns safety (hamstring injury; eligible to return Week 9)
On practice squads
Jake Bargas, Minnesota Vikings fullback
Myles Dorn, Minnesota Vikings safety (played 10 special-teams snaps on Week 2)
Dazz Newsome, Chicago Bears wide receiver
Antonio Williams, Buffalo Bills running back
Out for the season
Jalen Dalton, New Orleans Saints defensive tackle, suffered season-ending triceps injury
Ryan Switzer, Cleveland Browns wide receiver, had ankle surgery Aug. 20

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