The Denver Broncos have been relatively fortunate in the injury department throughout the majority of the 2023 season. Yes, the team has suffered its share of injuries, but the Broncos have not been bitten by the injury bug this season nearly as hard as we've seen in recent years. Kudos to the new strength, conditioning, training, and medical staff for the work they've been doing in preventing and treating injuries. Unfortunately, injuries have really prevented us from seeing a promising young wide receiver -- former undrafted gem Brandon Johnson -- really get a shot to continually show what he can do.
Johnson would have made the Broncos' 53-man roster as a rookie in 2022 if it weren't for a high-ankle sprain he suffered in the preseason. He came back last season anyway and caught a touchdown pass. He showed some consistency in the 2023 offseason and impressed a new coaching staff to the point that he made the 53-man roster yet again.
In just seven appearances earlier this season, Johnson had eight receptions. Three of those receptions went for touchdowns, including a Hail Mary touchdown against the Commanders in Week 2. He caught a touchdown in the Broncos' comeback win over the Chicago Bears as well, and went down with an injury during the first game of the Broncos' current five-game winning streak.
Throwing to Johnson has proven to be a good idea this season with his three touchdowns and 132.1 QB rating when the ball is thrown his way. The Broncos are getting Johnson back for their matchup against the Houston Texans on Sunday where the passing game could be highlighted a bit more than usual. The Texans rank 27th against the pass this season, and Johnson has proven he can create separation and create after the catch as well. He's an underrated big-play threat.
With Johnson back in the fold, the Broncos likely won't have to promote anyone from the practice squad at the position for their matchup against Houston. They've been rotating players like David Sills, Tre'Quan Smith, and Phillip Dorsett throughout the course of the first 11 games.
Not to overstate his return to the field, but Johnson coming back for the Broncos is exciting if only because this is another opportunity for a difference-maker to take the field on the offensive side of the ball. Johnson can win in the vertical passing game, he can be an effective red zone threat, and he's got a great combination of size, hands, and route-running ability. He's one of the true underrated gems of the team.
I don't think you can expect him to get more than 2-3 targets in his return on Sunday, but Brandon Johnson is a potential difference-maker to look out for this weekend.
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