As the Denver Broncos prepare to take on the New England Patriots in the 2014 AFC Championship game next Sunday, they are going to have to do it without arguably their most important defensive player. Cornerback Chris Harris was injured in the third quarter against the San Diego Chargers. Just how bad was the injury, though?
AP Source: Broncos have lost CB Chris Harris Jr. to torn left ACL (@arniestapleton)
— AP NFL (@AP_NFL) January 13, 2014
Without Harris now, due to a torn ACL, the Broncos’ secondary — and defense as a whole — is in some serious trouble.
The importance of Harris’ presence on the defensive side of the ball cannot be overstated, and here’s why. Harris was responsible for covering Chargers rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen in Sunday’s game. Prior to Harris’ injury, Allen was held without a catch. After Harris’ injury, Allen had six catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns with Quentin Jammer stepping in for Harris.
Still need more proof that Harris is their most valuable defensive player?
There is not one defensive package for the Broncos that doesn’t call for Harris to be on the field. He led the Broncos in defensive snaps in 2013 with 1,061 and is one of the most crucial players to the unit. Harris is the only Broncos defender that has played over 1,000 defensive snaps this season. That should tell you just how serious of a situation this puts the Denver defense in.
It is going to be tough for the Broncos defense to defend Tom Brady without Harris next week. Of course, it helps when you have a Peyton Manning on the field. As long as Manning is under center, you will always have a shot to win. But, without Harris, the defense is going to look a lot different and will need Jammer to step up in his absence.