Denver Broncos second-year wide receiver Brandon Johnson has made quite the name for himself this offseason as he has taken on a much bigger role in the absence of injured WR Tim Patrick. Heading into his second NFL season, the expectations will be much higher than a year ago when he was simply looking to grab a roster spot whereas this year, he has essentially guaranteed himself one.
Following the unfortunate injury of WR Tim Patrick, head coach Sean Payton and the Broncos immediately made the decision to place Brandon Johnson in the slot and operate in place of Patrick as the offense looks to schematically replace at least half of what they lost in their 29-year-old stud receiver. Johnson has reportedly made play after play in camp and looks to use the preseason to continue to prove he is worth remaining a starter in the offense. If the Broncos were to award a "most improved player of the offseason", Brandon Johnson would be one of the top candidates solely based on his performances at training camp.
In essentially every facet of camp Johnson has stood out and impressed coaches through his ability to create separation and utilize his underrated speed to often find himself open. 11-on-11s, 1-on-1s, 7-on-7s, you name it, Johnson has stood out, even with an increased role. It is also important to note that in just his second NFL season, he has made significant impressions on two completely different coaching staffs that run different offensive schemes. That proves the hype on Johnson is in fact real.
Johnson, 25, appeared in just seven games in his rookie campaign and totaled six receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown while starting just one game. Johnson unfortunately was unable to make the team's opening 53-man roster due to a high ankle sprain he suffered while run blocking during last season's preseason finale against the Minnesota Vikings. This ultimately led the way for UDFA WR Jalen Virgil to make the roster and eventually receive much more playing time. Johnson, who had been closely competing with Virgil in the 2022 offseason, has now leap-frogged multiple WRs on the depth chart and is due for a big role in Sean Payton's offense in just his second year in the pros as a former undrafted free agent.
However, during a camp practice on Tuesday, August 8th, Brandon Johnson reportedly went down on the field after slipping on the field during one-on-ones which appears to be a lower-leg injury. Despite walking under his own power and getting some "light jogging" in, Johnson exited practice with trainers which is certainly not a good sign.
However, Broncos insider Troy Renck later confirmed that the "early word is that he should be fine." Hopefully, for the offense's sake, the injury is minor and not a big concern like Renck reported however, still a situation to monitor. The Broncos have not been off to a great start with health and have already been suffering a concerning amount of leg injuries on their practice field which seems to be a reoccurring issue. You have to wonder if CEO Greg Penner and company are exploring potential possibilities of replacing the field in the future to avoid the cluster of lower-body injuries.
Assuming Johnson will be 100% healthy for the regular season, the 25-year-old WR remains a big piece of what Denver hopes to execute in their passing game in 2023. WRs Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton are both expected to have the best years of their career under offensive guru Sean Payton however, the Broncos may have a few things up their sleeves for Brandon Johnson who has already been so heavily involved with the starters at training camp and possibly even the preseason.