ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — It was 2:01 p.m. last Saturday and no one had called Josh Watson.

Congrats, kid. You made the team!

The undrafted rookie from Colorado State had pulled off an upset and made the Broncos’ 53-man roster.

“Saturday evening I saw that I made the 53,’’ Watson said as he sat at his locker. “And then Sunday was the day that I got called in. I figured it was something because I never got a call to come up to the facility. It went through my head that something must be happening.”

Football is an emotional game, but nothing stirs the insides like roster-cut day for a bubble player. Watson made it and then he didn’t. Keishawn Bierria didn’t make it and then he did. Fred Brown was cut at the exact minute his ride turned into a pumpkin at the stroke of the NFL roster’s midnight.

Alexander Johnson made the roster and is about to start in his first game that counts in almost five years when the Broncos play the Oakland Raiders tonight in the Black Hole.

> Watch the Broncos vs. Raiders at 8:20 p.m. Monday on KTVD Channel 20 (5 or 657 on Xfinity).

GAME DAY: Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders on KTVD Ch. 20

After the 2 p.m. cut deadline last Saturday, the Broncos claimed four players off waivers the next day. They had to make roster room for those four players. Watson got the call. He was waived off the roster.

Cardinals Broncos Football
Denver Broncos linebacker Josh Watson follows the play against the Arizona Cardinals the second half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
AP

It pains every player at the moment he is told he is not good enough. But to think you made the team on deadline day only to get cut 20 hours later? Heart-ripping.

“I was hurting,’’ Watson said. “I was definitely hurting. It was a big humbling experience. Big humbling experience. But then I got back to work on the practice squad, giving the guys on offense a good look so they can go out and play. It’s all good. I’m glad I’m still with the Broncos.’’

RELATED: Klis List: What the Broncos must do to beat the Antonio Brown-less Raiders

Actually, Watson wasn’t cut to make room for the waiver claims -- which were quarterback Brandon Allen, center-guard Corey Levin, receiver/returner Diontae Spencer and fullback Andrew Beck. Watson was cut after the Broncos seemingly changed their minds and flip-flopped Watson with Keishawn Bierria on the 53-man roster. Bierria was among the Broncos’ cuts on Saturday.

But Bierria, who like Watson is an inside linebacker. had 16 games of special teams experience from his rookie season last year. And special teams reared its problems during the just completed preseason.

Bierria was signed back on the Broncos’ 53-man roster on Sunday. And took Watson’s spot.

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Broncos Rams Football
Denver Broncos linebacker Keishawn Bierria (40) warms up before the start of an NFL preseason football game against the Los Angeles Rams Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
AP

“I’d never been through something like that before so I really didn’t know what to think,’’ Bierria said. “My agent (Jack Scharf) told me to just stay calm and everything will play out. And I ended up back in Denver. So I’m excited about that. I’m glad I didn’t have to pack up and move my home. I’m glad to be back with the guys. I think this team will do well this year and I’m excited to be a part of that.’’

Didn’t he wonder why he was cut in the first place?

“Yeah I asked that kind of question,’’ Bierria said. “The answer was it was kind of like a numbers game. It was possible I could be brought back. No promises. I just played it by ear. But I wound up back in Denver.’’

Then there’s receiver Fred Brown. Want to know who the last player the Broncos cut as they set their 53-man roster on Saturday.

“Being honest, I got the call at 2 p.m.,’’ Brown said.

At 1:59 p.m. he was good. One minute to go. The next day he was signed back to the Broncos’ practice squad.

RELATED: Cut by Raiders, Antonio Brown becoming a Patriot on eve of season opener

“It’s OK, I still need some development,’’ Brown said. “There’s a lot I have to learn yet and you get great coaching here whether you’re on the practice squad or 53-man roster.’’

Brown then paused and smiled before finishing his thought.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather develop on the 53 than practice squad, but I’m excited to still be here.’’

It helps that Broncos head coach Vic Fangio makes his practice squad players feel part of the team. Watson, Brown and eight other practice squad travelled with the A team Broncos to Oakland for the season opener tonight.

Johnson was a four-year starting middle linebacker for the University of Tennessee. Large for his position at 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, he entered his senior season in 2014 ranked as the sixth-best inside linebacker prospect by NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr.

But with three games remaining in his senior season, Johnson and a teammate were accused of raping a woman at a party held at Johnson’s apartment.

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It took 3 ½ years for the case to be resolved with a 12-person Tennessee jury acquitting Johnson and his teammate on all counts.

A little more than two weeks later, the Broncos signed Johnson but he spent last year shaking off the rust in practice. He appeared in just one game, against Houston, but didn’t play a defensive snap, getting in on 13 special teams plays.

But when Broncos starting linebacker Todd Davis went down with a calf injury on the first day of training camp in his new year, Johnson had his opportunity and is expected to start his first game for keeps since Nov. 15, 2014 when he lines up alongside Josey Jewell tonight against the Raiders.

“Odyssey? It wasn’t an odyssey, it was a day at a time,’’ Johnson said. “I already knew everything is good. The Man upstairs, I prayed about it, thought about it and knew everything was good. I’m excited to play in my first game in 4 ½ years. After playing in those five preseason games, I felt the groove come back. It felt good.’’

> Watch the Broncos vs. Raiders at 8:20 p.m. Monday on KTVD Channel 20 (5 or 657 on Xfinity).

GAME DAY: Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders on KTVD Ch. 20

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