One of the more recent surprises coming out of Dove Valley is the recent emergence of undrafted rookie wide receiver Brandon Johnson. He was overshadowed a bit by Montrell Washington during camp, but he started to emerge late and really flourished during the preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys. The former UCF wide receiver caught four balls for 64 yards, including a 40-yard reception from quarterback Josh Johnson.
This sort of performance has earned Johnson some first-team work. In fact, 9NEWS Denver’s Mike Klis notes that Johnson has been lining up with the first-team offense alongside Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy all week.
He flashed his potential during yesterday’s practice as well. The defense dominated the padded practice but the offense bounced back with a two-minute drill to end the practice. The star of that period was rookie wide receiver Brandon Johnson who was making plays with QB Russell Wilson under center. Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett touched on this during his post-practice presser with the media.
To see him come out there and make some plays in the game and even today. I think he had one from ‘Russ’ [QB Russell Wilson] today, which was really great. You just want to see those guys continue to develop and know what to do first. That’s always my concern with a young guy because there’s so much that they’re getting and he’s got that down, which is great. Now he just gets to go out there and make plays.”
With Tim Patrick out for the year with an ACL injury, the Denver Broncos needed someone to step up and help replace his role with the offense. Fellow rookie Montrell Washington also stepped up, but he’s a bit undersized to fully replace Patrick’s role, especially in the red zone. However, the 6’2”, 195-pound Johnson has a little more size and length to make plays down inside the money zone. So, it makes sense to see him out there with Sutton and Jeudy as a starter.
Offensive Coordinator Justin Outten was asked about Johnson after yesterday’s practice and he told reporters that he has earned the opportunity to get these first-team reps.
“He’s been a [hungry], young individual with an opportunity that he’s taking advantage of. He’s just doing all the things necessary to put himself in really good places. Working with the [No. 1 offense], he earned that opportunity. He does things behind the scenes to put him in a really good spot and it’s just working with what’s expected from us as coaches and what’s expected by [QB] Russell [Wilson]. He’s been doing a really good job in all aspects, not just the pass game, but the run game, too.”
Johnson earned the start last week alongside wide receiver Kendall Hinton and I think we’ll see the same two out there Saturday against Buffalo. I also think it’s safe to assume that Johnson is making the 53-man roster. If he is receiving consistent first team work this late into the process, he is part of the plan on the offensive side of the ball. Also, with K.J. Hamler slowly working his way back from these injuries, we could see Johnson start in three wide receiver sets and allow Hamler and/or Washington to sub in during certain packages.
It is always exciting to see a player like Johnson who went undrafted but has quickly stepped up and turned into a contributor right away. That is what makes this time of the year exciting and I hope we see him continue to make plays tomorrow against the Buffalo Bills tomorrow afternoon.