Friday, August 31, 2012

Rookie Steven Johnson makes Denver Broncos’ 53-man roster

Kansas linebacker Steven Johnson runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis on Monday, Feb. 27, 2012.

Kansas linebacker Steven Johnson runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis on Monday, Feb. 27, 2012.


The 2012 Denver Broncos will ultimately be known as the team led by quarterback Peyton Manning.

But for fans of Kansas University football, this year's Broncos represent something else — the professional home of a couple of former Jayhawks.

Friday, the Broncos trimmed their roster from 75 to the league-mandated 53-man squad that will open the regular season and both rookie linebacker Steven Johnson and second-year cornerback Chris Harris were on it.

Harris, who had serious competition for the nickel back spot he held for most of last season, held off all comers with a strong preseason. The Broncos on Friday waived veteran defensive back Drayton Florence, who had been considered Harris' biggest competition.

The undrafted free agent from Bixby, Okla., who joined the Broncos before the 2011 season, finished his first year among the league's top rookie tacklers and started nearly half of Denver's games.

Johnson has followed a similar path.

Passed over in last April's NFL Draft, Johnson signed as a free agent with the Broncos a few hours after the draft concluded and survived all of the preseason cuts to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. Denver will carry seven linebackers on its opening-day roster and John Elway, the team's executive vice president of football operations, indicated to The Denver Post that Johnson's initial role with the team would be on special teams.

Johnson shared his initial reaction to making the team with the Journal-World Friday night via text message.

"Man, just tears of joy," Johnson wrote. "I've come so far and it's nothing but God at work. I'm so thankful for the opportunities that were presented to me."

Johnson led the Jayhawks in tackles during each of the past two seasons.

In other NFL news Friday:

• Former KU linebacker Mike Rivera, a member of KU's 2008 Orange Bowl championship team, made the New England Patriots' final roster. Rivera, who signed as a free agent with the Chicago Bears out of college, has bounced around the league through stints with Chicago, Tennessee, Miami, Green Bay and now has settled in with New England, where he finished the 2011 season as a practice squad player for the Super Bowl runner-up.

• Former KU wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe, who, earlier this summer, was released by Tampa Bay, survived the cuts in Washington with the Redskins.

• Former KU wide receiver Kerry Meier was cut by Atlanta. Meier, a former fifth-round draft pick by the Falcons in 2010, played in 12 games last season — mostly on special teams — and did not record a catch. He missed the 2010 season after suffering a knee injury in the preseason.


riverdrifter 7 years, 11 months ago

A good gig for both of them. $250,000/yr part time job -while it lasts. Way to go guys. Keep working.

nuleafjhawk 7 years, 11 months ago

Very glad to celebrate Steven's accomplishments (so far)

Am more than a little sad and disgusted to see that Kerry Meier was let go. Hopefully, some smart team will pick him up.

Jayhawk2016 7 years, 11 months ago

I believe Kerry Meier got waived/injured rather than flat out cut. Darrell Stuckey and Anthony Collins also survived cuts from what I've seen. Aqib Talib also made it, no surprise. The only other Jayhawk cut was Moran Norris, FB, from the Houston Texans.

jhox 7 years, 11 months ago

No surprise on Johnson. He played with heart even through the worst of times last season, and had a great season despite the poor defensive coaching. The Chiefs should have signed him.

Micky Baker 7 years, 11 months ago

I hate the Broncos, but good job Steven Johnson. Keep working hard.

Steve Jacob 7 years, 11 months ago

On the active roster week one, your pay is guaranteed the rest of the season.

april28 7 years, 11 months ago

Congrats Steven but God had nothing to do with it unless he felt that the 19 other guys who had their dreams crushed just weren't holy enough.

hawk316 7 years, 11 months ago

april, Steven no doubt was recognizing that his inherent physical gifts, his health and the opportunities presented to him are blessings from a loving God. He's not suggesting that he had nothing to do with it--he took what God gave him and worked hard to maximize it-nor is he suggesting that God did not bless others with similar gifts. Not everyone recognizes the Source of life's blessings. Steven apparently does.

april28 7 years, 11 months ago

Then he should say that. Athletes need to learn to worship in a way that doesn't imply that they have been granted a special kind of grace.

hawk316 7 years, 11 months ago

Granted, not all athletes always articulate their religious beliefs perfectly (who among us doesn't fail to articulate perfectly on occasion?). And, of course, sometimes the situation does not allow for a lengthy explanation. I just think this was Steven's way of expressing his joy and gratitude to the One you describe as "a fictional character..." the same One, by the way, who has changed for the better millions of lives (including mine).

captku 7 years, 11 months ago

hawk316, me also, and my family. Thanks for the kind explanation here.

JayhawkDynasty 7 years, 11 months ago

Yes, you tell Steven exactly who had a hand in helping him reach his success. Surely you would know better than he.

Randy Bombardier 7 years, 11 months ago

Go spread your anti-Gospel somewhere else, dude. Thankfulness is a good mark of character. AA is successful because it recognizes in part a human need for a higher power. Maybe he (Johnson) should have said "the football gods" just so you wouldn't be offended.

Joe Ross 7 years, 11 months ago

Glad for Steven, but the BRONCOS??? God doth have a sense of humor.

hawk316 7 years, 11 months ago

bigtoe, since there is no sarcasm font, I may be missing your intent, but if you're being serious, and hypothetically, Steven is calling TG for advice...and he made the cut...hmmm, maybe Gill was giving him some good advice. TG may not have excelled as a football coach during his time at KU, but he certainly excels as a human being. Maybe what Steven needed was support and encouragement, and Gill could supply lots of that.

Randy Bombardier 7 years, 11 months ago

Glad to hear this. He has worked so hard and was a bright spot last year in the midst of a difficult season. Congrads to all the Hawks.

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