ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos linebacker Alexander Johnson, who is the team's second-leading tackler, will miss the remainder of the season after he suffered a torn right pectoral muscle in Sunday's 34-24 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Broncos coach Vic Fangio said Monday that tests had revealed the tear. Johnson, who has 32 tackles on the season, becomes the third Broncos defensive starter -- and third linebacker -- to head to injured reserve in the past four weeks. Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb went to injured reserve last month after surgery to remove a bone spur from his left ankle.
Johnson is also the second of those defensive starters, along with fellow inside linebacker Josey Jewell, to have suffered a torn pectoral muscle. Jewell suffered his injury in the Broncos' Week 2 win over Jacksonville.
Fangio said the team's medical staff will look at both injuries to evaluate why two players at the same position suffered the same injuries.
"They'll look at it, Josey's was a contact injury, and [Johnson] fell on his,'' Fangio said. "But they'll look at it. It seems to be a more common injury nowadays around the NFL than it has been in the past.''
Fangio isn't imagining it. In 2019, the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine did a study to determine whether the number of players suffering torn pectoral muscles was on the rise. And after studying the injuries that had been made public, the report said torn pectorals had increased five times between 2010 and 2017 than had occurred from 2000 to 2010.
Jewell suffered his injury on special teams -- covering a punt -- while Johnson was injured in pass coverage on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Raiders quarterback Derek Carr to running back Kenyan Drake.
Micah Kiser entered the game after Johnson was injured and played the rest of the way. Kiser and Justin Strnad are expected to start at the two inside linebacker spots Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns, with Strnad expected to wear the communication earpiece in his helmet during the game.
Jewell had worn the earpiece, and then Johnson did in the weeks following Jewell's injury.
"That's the way it will be right now, [but] we'll see how [Kiser] can do it with it, too, and make a decision by game time,'' Fangio said.
Fangio said the Broncos might have to elevate one or two inside linebackers from their practice squad for Thursday's game. Inside linebackers Curtis Robinson and Barrington Wade are on the Broncos' practice squad and both were with the team throughout training camp.