Denver Broncos RB Melvin Gordon III won't 'lay down' in battle for carries with Javonte Williams

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III believes most people have already designated Javonte Williams as the team's top back, but Gordon said Monday he isn't ready, or willing, to surrender his chance at the job.

"I told [Broncos general manager George Paton] when I was at the [negotiating] table, I'm not going to lay down, I'm not going to lay down,'' Gordon said. " ... I've always got that mindset that I've got to go get it every year.

"I know a lot of people want me to take the backseat and I get it,'' Gordon added. "It's been like that for a while, it was like that with the Chargers -- everybody wanted Austin [Ekeler] to start. I just come out here and do my thing. Thanks for the motivation everybody, I appreciate y'all.''

Monday was the first day of the Broncos' mandatory minicamp, so it was also the first time Gordon had practiced with his teammates. Gordon has not attended any of the voluntary portions of the team's offseason program, including a voluntary minicamp the Broncos had last month -- teams with new coaching staffs are allowed to have an extra minicamp in their offseason.

Gordon signed a one-year deal to return to the Broncos just before the NFL draft in April. He had said when the 2021 season drew to a close he hoped to find potentially a bigger workload with another team in free agency.

Last season, Gordon and Williams each had 203 carries and Gordon led the team with 918 yards rushing to Williams' 903 yards. Gordon battled hip, shoulder and thumb injuries down the stretch, but missed just one game this past season -- the Broncos' Week 13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

And after waiting it out over a month in free agency, he opted to return to the Broncos, with Williams and fellow running back Mike Boone in the new coaching staff's plans as well.

"I put my best foot forward every time I go out there and see what happens,'' Gordon said. "The goal is to make them want to play me ... Me and [Williams] are going to do it. I don't know how they're going to do the reps and all that ... I don't care how old people think I'm getting, I feel good. I've been sharing the ball since I got in the league, so this is nothing new.''

Williams, who had worked at the No. 1 back in most of the team's on-field work thus far in the offseason, was the Broncos' second-round pick in the 2021 draft and was named to the league's All-Rookie team following the season.

Williams said earlier this offseason he has consistently kept in touch with Gordon and that "if I have to split carries, or if I'm the starter, it doesn't matter. Whatever it is, I'm just trying to win the Super Bowl.''

Gordon said he arrived back in Denver last week and did spend some time in the team's facility, but did not participate in any of the on-field work before Monday's practice.

Gordon said the Broncos' trade to acquire quarterback Russell Wilson was "a game-changer'' in his decision to re-sign with the Broncos without any guarantees about playing time. He also called coach Nathaniel Hackett "a cool dude ... he's really changed the atmosphere around here.''

"We're excited to put him in there and watch him roll,'' Hackett said Monday. " ... He's a spectacular running back, he's been a great running back in this league for a long time and you can't have too many running backs.''

Gordon has rushed for 6,144 yards and 53 touchdowns and has 284 receptions for 2,244 yards and 14 touchdowns in seven seasons.