During Monday’s gut-punch loss to the Titans in the season opener, the Broncos’ first defensive takeaway of 2020 was negated by an unnecessary roughness penalty coach Vic Fangio said was “highly questionable.”
The interception by rookie cornerback Michael Ojemudia early in the third quarter of his NFL debut got wiped out by a flag on linebacker Alexander Johnson for hitting a player out of the play — Titans’ star running back Derrick Henry. Denver went on to finish with zero takeaways on the night and just one sack.
“I didn’t see it happen live, and when I saw it on the tape, he just chucked (Henry), in his chest, inside of five yards (of the line of scrimmage),” Fangio said. “He didn’t hit him in the back, neck or head area. I was surprised by the call.”
Per Rule 12-2-8(g) of the 2020 NFL Rulebook, unnecessary roughness can be defined as “unnecessarily running, diving into, cutting, or throwing the body against or on a player who is out of the play.” Johnson engaged with Henry at around the line of scrimmage just after Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill released the would-be interception.
Ojemudia reacted cooly to the penalty, and later, Johnson expressed disappointment with himself and the call.
“Obviously, I was just playing ball, playing within the whistle — playing football — but referee saw something else and it (stinks) that we had an interception we had to return,” said Johnson, who led Denver with 12 total tackles. “That hurt the team right there.”
Injury updates. Rookie wideout KJ Hamler (hamstring) will be full-go in practice this week, while the team waits for further evaluation on Courtland Sutton (shoulder) after the Pro Bowler was held out against Tennessee.
“Courtland is making improvements and we’ll see exactly what he does (Wednesday at practice),” Fangio said. “I expect Hamler to be back practicing full. He was practicing last week fully, but we were limiting his snaps to the (scout) team. I expect to get him back and acclimated into the offense.”
Meanwhile, Fangio had no further update on the status on No. 1 cornerback A.J. Bouye (shoulder) and running back Phil Lindsay (toe), both of whom where injured Monday night.
“They’re still doing testing, getting MRIs and seeing the doctors,” Fangio said.
As for outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, who is still working his way back to full game strength following his ACL repair, Fangio was “encouraged by his play.” Chubb had two quarterback hits but no tackles while playing 59 of 81 snaps (73%).
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Source:: The Denver Post – Sports