CINCINNATI — The Broncos lost one of their best defensive players here Sunday when cornerback Chris Harris Jr. suffered a fracture in his right fibula.
”I was making the tackle and somebody came in and hit me," Harris said. "It’s like a little chip. Imagine a little chip, that’s what it is."
9News was the first to report of the fracture, which Broncos' head coach Vance Joseph confirmed after the Broncos' 24-10 win against the Cincinnati Bengals. Harris seemed to get an accidental leg whip while making a tackle in the first quarter.
“It was hard," said Broncos' pass rusher Von Miller, who did his part to ease the blow to the secondary by getting 1.5 sacks on three quarterback hits on Jeff Driskel. "Everybody in Broncos Country knows what "Strap" Harris means to our secondary and our team. That was a huge one right there. I know it’s cliché to say next man up but we have got a lot of great rookies that are going to have to play well to keep us on the wave that we’re on."
Harris was playing at a Pro Bowl and maybe an All Pro-caliber level. His absence left the Broncos to play most of the game against the Bengals with Bradley Roby, Isaac Yiadom and Justin Simmons at cornerback. Yes, the same Simmons who had played every defensive snap at safety put on his best Dennis Smith impression and moved down to play the slot cornerback position.
“It was fun. It was a change of speed for sure,'' Simmons said.
While Will Parks moved in to play Simmons' safety spot on every down, Simmons was locked up one-on-one mostly against Tyler Boyd, the Bengals' top receiver after the injury to A.J. Green. He also had to cover the speedy John Ross a couple times.
“As soon as Chris went down it was next-man-up mentality," Simmons said. "They said they trusted me to get in there and get my job done and keep the same pace on defense as when Chris was in there. More importantly I didn’t want to let my team down."
Harris says he'll only be out four weeks, although the general rule is fractures require six weeks to heal. Four weeks or six, the Broncos would have to make the playoffs. Which no longer seems impossible.
“I’m just glad we won and hoping we can keep winning so I can come back," Harris said. "All we have to do is win and I can get back in. They just can’t cheat me out of All Pro."