CINCINNATI — Hours after breaking a bone in his lower leg, Chris Harris Jr. turned his focus toward getting back on the field.
“I’ll be all right,” said Harris in the locker room after suffering an injury during the first half of the Broncos’ 24-10 win over the Bengals. “I’ll be back.
“I think probably like a month [until returning]. I recover fast. I broke a record in coming back from an ACL [tear]. This ain’t nowhere close to that, so I know I’ll be back.”
If Harris’ teammates can continue to win games, there may be a postseason to which Harris can return.
That may be looking too far ahead.
The Broncos did not announce a final determination on Harris’ health in Cincinnati, as Head Coach Vance Joseph said the team needed to evaluate the situation further when back in Denver.
For that reason, Joseph did not rule Harris out for the rest of the year.
“We’ll see,” said Joseph when asked if Harris would be done for the season. “I’m not sure about that.”
Regardless of whether Harris sits out for a few weeks or for the rest of the season, his departure is a loss the team will feel.
From a schematic standpoint, Joseph said the Broncos will evaluate their options ahead of a Week 14 game against the 49ers. In Cincinnati, Joseph said, rookie Isaac Yiadom filled in well for the veteran All-Pro player.
“Obviously today Yiadom stepped in and played at a high level,” Joseph said. “Justin Simmons went to nickel, which he’s a special player for us. He can do a lot of things for us in the back end. But we’ll see moving forward what next week’s opponent presents and how we attack that.”
The loss will not, however, be easy to overcome.
Outside linebacker Von Miller, who has been Harris’ teammate since 2011, seemed to agree with that sentiment Sunday.
“It was hard,” Miller said. “Everybody in Broncos Country knows what ‘Strap Harris’ means to the secondary and our team. That was a huge [loss] right there. I know it’s cliché to say, 'Next man up,' but we’ve got a lot of great rookies that are going to have to play well to keep us on the wave that we’re riding.”
As the young players try to fill the void, Harris will rehab from an unfortunate — and unlucky — injury.
“It’s football,” Harris said. “It’s just part of it. Anytime you play on turf — I hate playing on turf. It’s just a fluke injury. I think I got hurt [by] my own teammate. I just made the tackle and then, bam, someone hits my leg and I just [need to] rest. I’ve played a lot this season, every down, and that’s just how it goes.”
Rookie Bradley Chubb said he still expects to see Harris in the meeting room to coach and tutor the young guys.
Perhaps, then, the Broncos won’t lose the leadership aspect or the mental aptitude that help make Harris a valuable piece of the Broncos’ defense.
“Chris is one of our leaders, he’s one of our better players,” Joseph said. “When you lose those guys, obviously, you don’t gain anything. You lose something. But again, we’ve lost our three interior leaders on the O-line, and we haven’t flinched.
“And we won’t flinch now.”