Former Tennessee Volunteers linebacker A.J. Johnson was impressive for the Denver Broncos in the NFL Preseason Pro Football Hall of Fame game.
The NFL Preseason began Thursday with two teams in the Hall of Fame game featuring three former Tennessee football players. Luke Stocker is on the Atlanta Falcons, and Ja’Wuan James is on the Denver Broncos. But the story of former Vols Thursday night was A.J. Johnson’s play with the Broncos.
Johnson was ties for second on the team with five tackles, three of which were solo, and he also had a tackle for a loss and quarterback hit en route to the Broncos’ 14-10 win Thursday in Canton. At one point, he appeared to have a sack and a forced fumble, but it was ruled an incomplete pass.
It was just the NFL Preseason game he needed to turn heads. Johnson was making an impact all evening. Throughout the game, Twitter took notice of his play, and fans began to talk about it at a good bit.
Johnson signed with Denver in an attempt to resume his football career four years later after serious legal issues, for which he only needed 90 minutes to be eventually acquitted of, put him on hold. He made the 53-man roster and appeared in one game. Earlier this year, he re-signed with the Broncos practice squad.
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Obviously, NFL Preseason is hard to fully gauge talent. But it’s a time for players trying to make the roster to prove themselves, and after the first game, Johnson appeared to do that. He’ll have to do more of it if he’s going to make the roster full-time, but this was a great start for him.
He clearly has a chance to make the roster if you pay attention not just to Vol Nation but to what is being said in Broncos circles. Jon Heath of Broncos Wire wrote an article last week about Johnsons’ potential to make the roster full-time as a backup linebacker due to the calf injury suffered by Todd Davis.
Simply put, with one year of pro experience at age 27 and standing at 6’2″ 255 pounds, Johnson clearly appears to be in contention to earn a spot on the Broncos 53-man roster for 2019. And while he has three more preseason games to go, his play Thursday was the perfect start for him.