Oct 27, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos linebacker Steven Johnson (53) before the game against the Washington Redskins at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Steven Johnson’s story is a remarkable one. He overcame some long odds to make the Broncos’ 53-man roster, two years in a row, after going undrafted out of Kansas in 2012.
Johnson has been able to stick on the roster, due his work-a-day attitude and exceptional special teams abilities. He and David Bruton are the Broncos’ standouts on special teams.
He’s also a serviceable backup linebacker, but if truth be told, if he’s seeing the field with the first-team defense, something has gone drastically wrong. And the Broncos know this.
Unfortunately for Johnson, the Broncos have a very deep LB corps this year. With guys like Lerentee McCray, Brandon Marshall, Shaquil Barrett, Lamin Barrow, and Corey Nelson, all making noise in training camp, Johnson’s prospects of making the team again are falling.
McCray and Marshall have been seeing a lot of action with the first and second-team defense. Barrow is the team’s 5th round draft pick this year, and he’s done nothing but play to a level that has justified his draft pedigree. I was very impressed with his performance vs the Seahawks last week.
Nate Irving is going to be the Broncos’ starting MIKE LB this year. And Barrow figures to be his backup. Danny Trevathan will again be the team’s WILL and coverage LB, with Marshall as his backup. Once healthy, Von Miller will be back in the saddle as the SAM, with McCray backing him up. That’s six guys right there.
The way I see it, Johnson, Barrett and Marshall are competing for the 6th and final LB spot. All things being equal, it’s looking like Marshall has the edge, at least right now. It will be sad to see Johnson go, but for a guy who has already overcome so many obstacles, I suppose we shouldn’t count him out quite yet. But he is on the bubble.