ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --The Broncos survived and advanced in yesterday's Divisional Round of the AFC playoffs. But they didn't escape unscathed.
After the 24-17 win against the San Diego Chargers, Head Coach John Fox said cornerback Chris Harris Jr.'s knee and ankle injury was "our only and most significant injury."
Monday morning, news of the severity broke. Harris has a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the season.
"It is another disappointment for us – somebody else that we've been battling with that has been a huge part of this team and this defense that is down," linebacker Paris Lenon said. "It's an opportunity for somebody to step up and play big."
It's the second torn ACL for a key Broncos defensive contributor in the past three games -- linebacker Von Miller tore his ACL in Week 16 against the Houston Texans.
That leaves Champ Bailey, Tony Carter, Quentin Jammer, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Kayvon Webster as the healthy cornerbacks on Denver's active roster. Safety Omar Bolden also has experience at cornerback -- he was selected by the Broncos in the 2012 NFL Draft at that position.
"We've faced so much adversity all year with injuries," defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said after Sunday's game. "Like we've been saying all year, the next guy has got to step up and play."
Bailey, who has been playing the inside cornerback position since his return to the field in Week 16, said the defense talked briefly about moving him back to outside cornerback when Harris went down Sunday, but ultimately decided to keep him on the interior of the defense.
"We're going to see what happens this week and how Chris is doing and see what works best for our team," Bailey said.
As it turned out, it was Jammer who filled in at Harris' spot against the Chargers.
"Our defense has improved quite a bit over the last few weeks," Fox said. "Any time you lose a starter, you are going to have a couple struggles, and we did. All in all I thought our defense played one of its better games."
Now that unit will have to continue its recent streak of solid play without one of its best cornerbacks, who earned second-team All-Pro honors from ProFootballFocus.com.
"After the second San Diego game when we lost, we decided as a group that it's time to play our best ball," Knighton said. "We showed that when we went to Houston and it continued on until now."
Blessed to be able to help the team get this Far , and will still do my part in meeting room to help my guys out. — Chris Harris (@ChrisHarrisJr) January 13, 2014