LB Alexander Johnson Dealing With Knee Injury, Availability for Week 13 'Up in the Air'

Chad Jensen

Through the first quarter of the season, the Denver Broncos defense was the epitome of lackluster. Denver went until Week 4 without a sack or takeaway. 

The unit's trajectory shifted in Week 5 and it was due in large part to the arrival of Alexander Johnson at inside linebacker. Johnson made is first career start that week vs. the Los Angeles Chargers and was a whirling dervish. 

That hasn't changed since, as Johnson has established himself as one of the NFL's best off-ball linebackers and the highest-graded player at his position according to the leading advanced analytics site Pro Football Focus. 

Unfortunately for the Broncos, though, Johnson is nursing a knee injury. On Thursday, as Broncos Country celebrated Thanksgiving, head coach Vic Fangio clued them in on what happened with the dynamic linebacker. 

“He got it late in the Buffalo game," Fangio said. "His availability for this week is up in the air. He didn’t practice yesterday and won’t practice today.”

Johnson will not practice this week in an effort to rest that knee as much as possible. Expect him to be a game-time decision. 

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If Johnson is a no-go, the next man up ostensibly is Josey Jewell, but he too is banged up. Jewell didn't practice on Wednesday with an ankle injury. If Jewell can't go either, Fangio revealed who the next men up would be. 

“We think Josey will make it, but would be Joe Jones, Josh Watson," Fangio said. 

Jones would likely be the first man into the breach sans Johnson or Jewell. Watson is an undrafted rookie out of Colorado State who impressed the team this past summer and made the 53-man roster out of training camp. 

Here's to hoping the rest does Johnson's knee wonders. Through seven starts, Johnson has totaled 61 tackles (35 solo), three tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks and an interception. 

He's been every bit the dynamic impact linebacker the Broncos have been missing in the middle of their defense for years. Johnson's play has brought out the best in Todd Davis, too, who's having arguably his best year as a pro 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen and @MileHighHuddle.

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