Denver — It might have seemed like a meaningless risk to Detroit Lions fans, but running back Kerryon Johnson was thrilled to get back on the field in Sunday's loss to the Denver Broncos after being sidelined eight weeks by knee surgery.
Wearing a brace to protect his right knee, Johnson moved well, rushing 10 times for 42 yards in the loss.
"It felt awesome," Johnson said about his return to action. "That was probably the most fun I've had in a year. It was great to be able to get back out there and contribute a little bit, be able to play and do what I'm here to do."
Beyond having fresh legs, Johnson was particularly pleased with how he was seeing the game.
"Vision-wise, that was probably as clear as I've felt in a while," he said. "I guess my eyes needed a break or something. I was making the correct reads, for the most part, and it just felt really good."
Lions coach Matt Patricia withheld judgement of Johnson's overall performance until the film could be evaluated, but Patricia also saw some positives with the way the back appeared to be reading the field.
"There were some plays out there where I thought he made some great cuts and saw the hole pretty well, which was good to see," Patricia said. "He got better as the game went on."
Johnson and his backfield mates Bo Scarbrough and Ty Johnson played a key role on Detroit's lone touchdown drive. The trio combined to rush for 48 yards on eight carries on the third-quarter series, with Kerryon having gains of 8, 8 and 7 yards.
"That's a little bit of us and that's a lot of those big guys up front," Johnson said, offering praise for his offensive line. "That's the type of team we've tried to be all year. It's the type of team we wanted to be and our offense needed that tonight. You can't just sit and drop back with (Broncos edge rusher) Von Miller out there. That's hard for anybody."