Vickerson was placed on injured reserve last week after suffering the hip injury in the Broncos’ Nov. 24 road game at New England. However, a day after the Broncos’ 35-28 win over the Chiefs in a key divisional showdown, Vickerson was back in the locker room with his teammates – and he made clear that he’ll be standing by them for the rest of the way, as well.
“These young guys on this team really need me, support-wise,” Vickerson said. “And I’m just trying to support them, too, for myself. I need them, too, so it’s a boost of my spirits just seeing the guys out, playing hard and giving effort. That’s all I can do, man, is try to give words to some young guys and try to support them the best way I can.”
Vickerson discussed his injury – which happened late in the third quarter of the New England game – noting that he knew something was wrong as soon as the play unfolded.
“I heard two clicks in my hip and the pile fell on top of me,” he said. “I just knew something was wrong. Took the precautions, tried to get it looked at on the sideline and just wasn’t feeling it. (They) told me I couldn’t go back.”
Though Vickerson – who totaled 22 tackles, seven tackles for loss, a sack and three passes defensed this season – noted that he initially pushed back against the team’s decision to place him on injured reserve, but he ultimately became understanding that the decision made was the best one for both the team and for him.
“Yeah, I definitely pleaded,” Vickerson said. “But business is business, man, and you’ve got to make those tough decisions in this league. It was something that I understand. I’ve been in this situation before. Now it’s just time to heal up, rehab, get stronger and come back for next year. Root the guys on while they’re still going on and playing for this journey that we’re going after.”
Coming to acceptance with the decision didn’t mean that it was an easy one to take, however.
“It wasn’t the words I wanted to hear,” he said. “I definitely wanted to try to come back, but at the same time, like I said, the guys in this building – (Executive Vice President of Football Operations John) Elway and the leaders of our front office – they made the best decision that is for the team and the best decision for my career. It’s something I don’t want to rush back because I was trying to, but after that, got a thorough understanding of the injury. I came at ease with the decision that they made.”
Head Coach John Fox said he spoke to Vickerson on Sunday, nothing that his experience while recovering from heart surgery allowed him to empathize with his defensive tackle’s inability to be on the field with his teammates.
“I knew it was going to be the first time he watched (a game since his season-ending injury) – and I knew how hard it was," Fox said. "I’m sure that wasn’t any fun for him, either.”
Vickerson added that the support he has received from the Broncos organization has been uplifting.
“The whole family with the Broncos, they’ve been supporting me ever since the injury and I got news about it,” he said. “It’s always good when you’ve got a support system and you’ve got a backup that is supporting you strong. It’s a good deal.”
And while he won’t join his teammates on the field anytime soon, you can count on Vickerson’s presence still being felt, loud and clear, on the Broncos.
“I’m still here supporting real strong, sitting in meetings, trying to stay into it, helping the younger guys out as much as I can,” he said. “I’m just trying to be that veteran leader in the locker room.”