After being placed on injured reserve and missing four games with an ankle injury, the Broncos designated running back Mike Boone to return from IR on Wednesday. The fifth-year player's 5.5 rushing yards per attempt leads all Broncos running backs this season, and he should provide a major boost to the run game upon his return.
"It feels good, man," Boone said Thursday. "It's stressful in that training room, so to be back with the guys, having fun, being able to contribute, it feels good."
Boone is now in a 21-day window for the team to activate him to the 53-man roster. Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett did not indicate whether Boone will be activated ahead of Denver's upcoming matchup with the Ravens, but he expressed excitement that Boone is back practicing with the team.
"It was a good to see him," Hackett said. "We are slowly working him back in. It'll be great to get somebody back, finally."
Boone noted that his injury, which occurred during the Jets game in Week 7, initially seemed like it could be much worse.
"The first few days was rough," Boone said. "I wasn't even thinking four to six weeks at first, but it started calming down. Shoutout [to] the guys in the training room; they got me back right and I feel good now."
It is unclear how the running back rotation of Latavius Murray, Marlon Mack and Boone will look upon the latter's return, but Boone noted that he is not concerned with that — whenever he is asked to take the field, he'll be ready.
"I don't really try to think about that," Boone said. "When they call my name, call my number, I'll try to be there."
After several weeks of watching the team from the outside, Boone noted that he is optimistic about the Broncos' run game — particularly after seeing Murray break free for a 52-yard run against the Panthers.
"We're sticking with what we're good at," Boone said. "Latavius had a long one last week, and that gives us momentum and confidence to keep running the ball, so hopefully that's what we go out and do."
Below the Fold
Rookie wide receiver Brandon Johnson scored the first touchdown of his career against the Panthers on Sunday, and Hackett had immense praise for what the undrafted free agent has been able to accomplish despite the adversity he's faced.
"[Johnson's] a guy that was not even on a football team for four weeks, or however long it was, until we were able to pick him up," Hackett said. "We all saw his talent in the preseason and the things that he was able to bring to the team — his intelligence, his ability to play all three positions. Then [he had] to take that time off and do all the things that he did to keep himself in shape. Now, he pretty much starts for us. It's just a credit to him. A credit to the man and the ability to stay locked in, even when he's not in the building, and continually work out and play an entire game and contribute. I mean, heck, he scored a touchdown. All those things are just a great credit to him as a young man being able to come in here and be a professional."
While recovering from a high-ankle sprain he suffered during the Broncos' final preseason game, Johnson said Thursday that he dedicated his time to preparing for his return. When he finally made his regular season debut in Week 11, the rookie was ready to play.
"I was studying the playbook and things that we're running, so when that moment did come, I was able to get on the field," Johnson said. "It didn't require much extra studying; I had already been up on my stuff."