Will Javonte Williams be more involved in the Broncos’ passing game this year?

From Reggie Bush to Darren Sproles to Alvin Kamara, Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton has a history of giving running backs plenty of opportunities as receivers out of the backfield.

Will that trend continue in 2023?

Broncos running back Javonte Williams missed 13 games last season with a torn ACL and he returned to the field for the first time since that injury when Denver faced the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2 of preseason on Saturday.

Williams was heavily involved in the passing game, being targeted a team-high five times in San Francisco. Williams ended the day with four receptions for 18 yards (adding three carries for 12 yards).

After the game, Payton downplayed Williams’ involvement in the passing game, suggesting it was just the way plays developed.

“It just felt that way,” Payton said when asked about how involved Williams was as a receiver. “I don’t have his touches yet or how many carries he had, I think it just felt that way. A screen pass is one thing, but him getting a throw on a third down where he’s not the intended target but the coverage dictates it. I think that’s kind of what happened.”

Williams played played just 12 snaps against the 49ers but he was heavily involved on offense, getting a touch or target on eight of those 12 snaps. Getting him more involved in the passing game might not necessarily be a goal for Payton, but if Williams makes himself a reliable outlet for quarterback Russell Wilson, the RB could see an uptick in receptions this season.

Story originally appeared on Broncos Wire