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With Todd Davis to miss time, HC Vic Fangio outlines plan at linebacker

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Inside linebacker Todd Davis will miss “at least a couple weeks” with a calf injury, Head Coach Vic Fangio confirmed Friday.

Davis suffered the injury on the last first-team rep of team drills during Thursday morning’s practice.

The Broncos don’t play their regular-season opener until Sept. 9, so the timetable Fangio provided should not preclude Davis from appearing in that game.

With Davis out, second-year linebacker Alexander Johnson took the first-team reps alongside Josey Jewell during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.

Fangio said he will likely rotate who gets reps with the first team over the coming practices.

“Yeah, you saw [Johnson] out there today working with the first group,” Fangio said. “Probably tomorrow or the next day it’ll be somebody else. We’re just going to even off the work with everybody.”

Johnson signed with the Broncos as a college free agent during training camp in 2018 and spent time on both the Broncos’ active roster and practice squad. He appeared in one game for the team in 2018.

A former freshman All-American and All-SEC player, Johnson finished his career at Tennessee with 424 tackles. He was out of football from 2014 to 2018 as he dealt with legal issues.

“He’s got good size,” Fangio said. “He’s a thumper in there. He’s strong. He’s just got to improve his overall understanding and execution. He’s a guy that — you guys know the story — missed a lot of football in his career. He’s got a lot of catching up to do. Not just in our system, but learning how to play in the NFL and overcoming all the lack of action that he missed throughout his career."

Rookie linebacker Justin Hollins appeared to replace Johnson when the first-team defense shifted to nickel packages. Hollins has played both inside and outside linebacker since the team drafted him in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

“I don’t think it’s a problem going back and forth, but it’s a little bit of an issue for him because he hasn’t done it much,” Fangio said. "He did it a little bit in college. Very, very little. Did it a little in a college all-star game. The newness of the position is more so an issue than going back and forth. He’s been doing fine with it.”

Fangio said the team has not yet considered adding a veteran inside linebacker to the roster.

“There’s not a lot out there right now when 32 teams have 90 guys in camp on their roster,” Fangio said.

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