After day one of the 2019 Denver Broncos Training Camp concluded, they suffered their first significant injury of the year. Starting inside linebacker Todd Davis suffered a partially torn calf and will be sidelined for the next three to four weeks.
Thankfully for the Broncos and Davis, there are about six weeks until the start of the regular season, so he is expected to be fine for week one. The question remaining was who would replace Davis in the 1st team defense until he returned? Well, at least for one day, it was the hard-hitting Alexander Johnson.
Alexander Johnson gets first chance at filling in for Todd Davis. #9sports— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) July 19, 2019
Head Coach Vic Fangio was asked about Johnson’s skill set and he cited his obvious size, strength, and physicality as the things that stood out to him.
“He’s got good size. He’s a thumper in there. He’s strong. He’s just got to improve his overall understanding and execution. He’s a guy that, you guys know the story, missed a lot of football in his career and he’s got a lot of catching up to do, not just in our system but learning how to play in the NFL and overcoming all the lack of action that he missed throughout his career.”
Johnson is listed at 6-2 and is coming in at about or a little over 250 pounds. So he is built like a traditional inside linebacker and certainly plays like one too. He signed with the Broncos last season and was on and off the roster throughout the season and didn’t record a single tackle during that process. However, after being out of football for a while, it was a year of growth that has him more prepared for his second year in the NFL.
Fellow teammate Josey Jewell was asked about Johnson’s development and told reporters that he “definitely improved”.
“Yeah, definitely improved. I think he got quite a bit smarter throughout the process here. I think we all did from the first year to the second year and really just getting back into the game. He was out of it for a while, so kudos to him for being able to pick it up pretty quick here and being able to get out there and do his job.”
Johnson was asked what he learned last year that helped him improve his game this year and simply said that he put in the work and learned the playbook/scheme. Less thinking and more reacting is what he was striving for and it appears it has paid off for him.
“Pretty much that every year is a new year so this year the new staff came in the most important thing was getting the playbook down, learning the scheme, getting the scheme like the back of my hand so I don’t even have to go out there and think. I can just go out there and play, and when I go out there and play, I go out there and play.”
Now going from being a backup/roster bubble guy/special teams player to a starting role can be a bit overwhelming for some players but Johnson is keeping himself grounded and staying realistic.
He told reporters that no matter what team he is playing on(1st, 2nd, or 3rd) that he is just going to go out there and do his job. He also says that this isn’t a surreal experience playing with the first-team defense because it is just football. Nothing less and nothing more.
“I wouldn’t say surreal, it’s football. It doesn’t matter what position you are, the biggest thing is I’m trying to go out there and perform, do my job and put good play on the film. That’s the biggest thing, putting good play on the film. Right now, it’s depth chart, it really doesn’t until you get that 53-man roster when it really counts. Right here it counts the most, trying to get out there and do my job. Put me first, third, I’m trying to do my job and play the best I can.”
I like his mindset here. Keep things simple and just go out there and do your job. I think that is the type of player that Head Coach Vic Fangio will be attracted too.
Now, Fangio did say he was going to try different players at Davis’s spot so there’s a chance we see someone else getting 1st team reps during today’s practice. With that said, Johnson getting first dibs is a good sign of his standing with the Broncos coaches and likely helping his odds of making the 53-man roster.
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