NFL

Broncos RB Javonte Williams set for MRI amid fears of serious knee injury

By Sports Desk October 03, 2022

There are fears of a serious knee injury for Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams, who head coach Nathaniel Hackett confirmed will undergo an MRI.

Williams was forced out of Sunday's 32-23 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders with a right knee injury after being floored by defensive end Maxx Crosby in the first play of the third quarter.

The 22-year-old, who entered the game as the Broncos' leading rusher with 176 yards through three games, was unable to put full weight on his injured leg and taken to the locker room on a cart.

Williams was seen on crutches after the game and while Hackett would not elaborate on the extent of the injury amid fears of a lengthy stint on the sidelines, he confirmed he will need scans on Monday.

"We're still evaluating," Hackett said. "We want to be sure we get MRIs and get a feel there."

Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson added: "Obviously seeing Javonte go down, that hurt. Hopefully he'll be OK.''

Williams ran for 28 yards on 10 carries in Sunday's game. He has been the Broncos' second-leading receiver with 16 catches for 76 yards this season.

The Raiders' win marked Josh McDaniels' first as head coach of the franchise, coming against the team he led for almost two years before being sacked in December 2010 after losing 12 of his last 17 games with Denver.

"They gave me a great opportunity at a young age and, if anything, I look at it like it was a blessing because I learned so much from it," McDaniels told reporters.

"That made me better and I've been forever grateful to [owner] Mr [Pat] Bowlen for what he gave me an opportunity to do. Unfortunately, I didn't do well enough with it, but hopefully I've learned from it."

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    Lionel Messi will walk out the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium tunnel on Saturday with the expectations of millions on his shoulders when Argentina face Australia in the last 16 of Qatar 2022.

    That is nothing new, of course, for this will be the 1,000th match of a remarkable career that may yet to have peaked – though that will depend on whether Messi can inspire his country past Australia and all the way to World Cup glory.

    Now aged 35, Messi has already accepted this will be his final chance to lift the most famous trophy of them all, a little over a year on from helping La Albiceleste end their 28-year wait for a major title with Copa America success.

    Ahead of the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner's milestone match, Stats Perform looks at the numbers behind his previous 999 appearances for club and country – and why the next two weeks could yet define his career.

    Barca Breakthrough

    October 16, 2004. It would not be hyperbolic to suggest this was a day that football as we know it changed, with a 17-year-old Messi replacing Deco from the substitutes' bench in Barcelona's 1-0 win over city rivals Espanyol.

    In a sign of the mini maestro's longevity, he has since played alongside two players born after his Barcelona debut – Warren Zaire-Emery and El Chadaille Bitshiabu, born in March 2006 and May 2005 respectively.

    Both teenagers are on Paris Saint-Germain's books, where Messi is now plying his trade after ending his two-decade association with Barcelona in emotional circumstances in August 2021.

    Unsurprisingly, the majority of Messi's career appearances came during his 17 seasons at Camp Nou. He featured 778 times for Barca, scoring a staggering 672 goals and assisting 265, which amounts to 937 direct-goal involvements.

    He made more appearances against Real Madrid than any other opponent, playing 47 times against Barca's fiercest rivals.

    Good times under Guardiola

    Barcelona's inability to offer Messi a new contract due to their dire financial situation allowed PSG to pounce. After an underwhelming first campaign in Paris, the superstar forward has found his form this term.

    Messi has featured 53 times for the Parisians to date and has scored (23) and assisted (28) a combined 51 goals – just short of one goal involvement every match on average.

    He has already had two different managers at the Parc des Princes, with Christophe Galtier having replaced Mauricio Pochettino in the hot seat. That takes the number of head coaches Messi has worked under to 19.

    It was under Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, between 2008 and 2012, that Messi played his most games as he featured on 219 occasions under the Catalan and scored 211 times.

    Luis Enrique is next on that list (158 games), followed by Ernesto Valverde (124) and Frank Rijkaard (110), the man who gave him his debut against Espanyol.


    1,000 not out

    Some 18 years and 48 days on from that first appearance comes match number 1,000 for club and country – and what a truly huge occasion it is for Messi and Argentina, who recovered from a slow start in the group phase to advance.

    Messi has featured in 22 previous World Cup matches – one more than Diego Maradona as the most ever for an Argentina player – scoring eight times and assisting six more. 

    Incredibly for a player of his game-changing quality, Messi has yet to score in the knockout stages of the World Cup – 23 efforts, zero goals. Interestingly, the same is also true of archenemy Cristiano Ronaldo (25 shots without a goal).

    The aim for Messi will be to put that right against Australia on what will be his 169th senior cap, 17 years on from his senior international bow against Hungary, which came just 10 games into his career for club and country.

    And while it will be a special occasion for Messi, the man many consider to be the greatest of all time will hope to make it to 1,003 matches before Argentina's Qatar campaign concludes.

    Should that be the case and Argentina go on to lift the World Cup for the first time since 1986, a centre-stage Messi will have the defining moment of a truly special career that still has some way to go yet.

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    Stafford has missed two of the Rams' last three games because of concussion protocols and a neck injury. While he’s cleared for the concussion, the team is still gathering information about the neck injury.

    "I think there’s so many layers [to that decision]," McVay said. "There’s so much thought and dialogue that goes into it, but I think first and foremost it’s got to get cleared from the medical experts.

    "I’m not the expert in that area, but if there’s any sort of sense of, this is something that’ll be better served in the long term or it’s going to be a few more week, things like that, I think that’ll end up taking care of itself."

    John Wolford will start Sunday against Seattle and Bryce Perkins, who started last week’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, will serve as his backup.

    The Rams may be extra careful with Stafford because he felt numbness in his legs after taking a hit against the New Orleans Saints on November 20. That was just two days after he cleared the concussion protocol for the first time.

    McVay didn’t rule out that Stafford could be shut down for the season.

    "If there’s any inkling that he can play, this guy is going to want to play. Now [there is] a possibility that we say, 'based on what we’re gathering, the doctors, those types of things, the smart thing is not to play you' – and he could be upset with me.

    "But I think he knows that I have his best interest and we have his best interest. If that’s the case, then that’s definitely a possibility."

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    Having seen Brazil secure a place in the round of 16 by beating Switzerland last time out, Tite made nine changes to his side, which resulted in a disjointed Selecao showing at the Lusail Stadium.

    Devis Epassy kept Cameroon in the contest with several fine saves before Aboubakar nodded home a stoppage-time winner for Rigobert Song's men – and was promptly shown a second yellow card for removing his shirt.

    However, the result was ultimately immaterial as Switzerland clung on to beat Serbia 3-2 in the group's other game, ensuring Brazil topped the pool and sealing Cameroon's elimination. 

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