DENVER — For the second time in this still young 2021 season, the Broncos have lost a starting inside linebacker to a torn pectoral injury.
A problem considering the Broncos only employ two inside linebackers in their defensive set.
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio confirmed during his day-after-game press conference Monday that leading tackler Alexander Johnson suffered a season-ending torn pec injury in the final seconds of the first half in the Broncos' 34-24 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.
9NEWS first reported there were fears Johnson suffered a serious pec injury during the game Sunday and again Monday morning that an MRI exam did show a tear.
In game 2 this season at Jacksonville, the Broncos' other starting linebacker, Josey Jewell, suffered a season-ending torn pectoral injury. When the same injury wipes out an entire starting position, it's worth investigating in hopes of finding a cause.
"Yeah, they'll look at it,'' Fangio said. "Josey's was a contact injury and A.J. fell on his. But, yes, they'll look at it. It seems to be a more common injury nowadays around the NFL than it has been in the past."
The Broncos will also be without backup, third-round rookie linebacker Baron Browning for their game Thursday night in Cleveland against the Browns. He suffered a concussion on a kickoff play and there won't be enough time for him to clear from concussion protocol.
Justin Strnad replaced Jewell at inside linebacker and veteran Micah Kiser replaced Johnson in the second half against the Raiders. Fangio said the team would also likely call on their practice squad linebacker group of Curtis Robinson and Barrington Wade for the game Thursday.
PHOTOS | Broncos vs. Raiders
Addressing the hot seat
Fangio was asked if he pays attention to the heat on his coaching staff following three straight losses (and two previous seasons of losing records).
"Nah, just tune it out, really,'' he said. "This is the NFL. And when that happens, that's natural. We expect it and that's just part of the deal."
Later, Fangio was asked if he's worried about the state of team following three consecutive losses.
"I have a sign in my office that says, "It's not time to worry. It's time to work,' he said. "And that's my motto."
Left tackle Garett Bolles is day-to-day with a knee injury. It swelled up after he was rolled up during the game Sunday. He stayed in for a few plays, but then the medical staff pulled him. ...
Fangio said it was "less than 50 percent" receiver Jerry Jeudy would return from his ankle injury and play Thursday at Cleveland. Jeudy returned to practice Saturday for the first time since suffering the high ankle injury five weeks earlier in the Broncos' season-opening win at the New York Giants. ...
With the game Thursday, Broncos practices will consist of multiple walkthroughs. "We've got to sweat in the meeting room this week,'' Fangio said. "We won't be sweating on the practice field. So, we've got to really strain our brain and learn in the meeting rooms.''
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