Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio noted the status of right tackle Ja’Wuan James is up in the air for the team’s game against the Minnesota Vikings.
In case you hadn’t already heard, the Denver Broncos are only two games back in the loss column from the Kansas City Chiefs, who lead the AFC West at this point in time.
It may seem like things are bleak in Denver, but despite how things have gone so far this season (being 3-6 with some awful, close losses) the Broncos have not been eliminated from playoff contention and with a top-five defense probably shouldn’t be completely discounted at this point.
At the very least, the Broncos still have a chance to make some noise, and therefore, they need all hands on deck.
That includes big-money free agent right tackle Ja’Wuan James, whose return from a week one knee injury was shortened by an aggravation of that injury against the Indianapolis Colts when he was rolled up on.
The lack of availability from James and fellow 2019 free agent Bryce Callahan has, to this point, been extremely disappointing. But there are still seven games left this season and there are plenty of reasons for the Broncos to do everything they can to bring both guys back.
Vic Fangio stated at his Monday press conference that James’ status for this week against the Vikings is ‘up in the air’ but he’s also previously stated that this particular re-injury of the knee was not going to take as long to recover from as the initial injury, which kept James out six weeks.
He’s been out for two weeks now, so perhaps the Broncos will let him test the knee this week, but Fangio didn’t stop short of saying other certain players would practice this week coming off of injuries, so the fact that he didn’t say James was returning to practice would indicate the chances aren’t great of him playing against the Vikings.
With that said, he didn’t rule him out, and he didn’t say he wouldn’t practice.
The importance of James returning to the lineup is obvious, but we need to re-hash the reasons why it’s so critical for the Broncos to get him back
We mentioned this team is not completely out of contention, and as unlikely as it seems, they might as well go down swinging at this point, right? Get your best guys out there.
The Broncos also need to get some return on the investment in James. Before the Raiders moved Trent Brown to right tackle, James signed the biggest contract for a right tackle in the history of the league. This guy has to play and earn that cash.
There’s also the fact that James is undoubtedly the best tackle on the team. With that being the case, he is going to help keep these young quarterbacks properly protected, at least from his side of the formation.
James staying healthy is going to be critical to the Broncos competing with Brandon Allen at QB and giving rookie Drew Lock proper protection so he’s not running for his life every time he drops back to throw.
We’ll find out more on Tuesday about James’ status, but the fact that it’s ‘up in the air’ for Minnesota seems to indicate he could need more time.