The Giants think they have a couple of secret weapons for the Denver Broncos. One is a longtime backup finally getting his chance to star, while the other may be a guy who probably won’t be activated for Thursday night’s game.

Linebacker Chase Blackburn will get his second consecutive start at middle linebacker, as regular starter Antonio Pierce nurses a neck injury. At the opposite end of the spectrum, former Bronco cornerback D.J. Johnson may play a part in deciphering anything Denver has in store for the Giants, as his classroom work has been invaluable. Johnson was signed by the Giants off of Denver’s practice squad on Nov. 11. And since that day, he’s been grilled on all things orange and blue.

The first-year corner has been asked about everything, ranging from Denver’s schemes to how the Mile High altitude really affects players. Johnson appreciates the attention because he says he’s “gone from student to teacher” and is anxious to get back to Denver. He just hopes he can actually show the Broncos what they’re missing – as unlikely a scenario as that might be.

“I’m excited but…” Johnson said of his return to Denver, his voice trailing off into a barely-audible “I probably won’t play, though.”

Blackburn will play and said he’s more prepared this time because he doesn’t have to learn via text message from Pierce that he’ll be starting.

“I actually thought it was joke when [Pierce] texted me Saturday night,” said Blackburn, who learned hours before kickoff that the job was his.

“I study all the positions every week anyway,” Blackburn said. “I have been a middle linebacker my entire life, so it’s not a big deal to move back from weakside to middle.”

The fifth-year linebacker will be relied upon to get the calls from defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, make sure his teammates are lined up properly, and then try and execute the play. He’ll have his hands full trying to chase down the Broncos’ elusive running back Knowshon Moreno, who leads all rookies with 600 rushing yards.

Running ragged in that thin air can be an issue, so many of his teammates have come to Johnson as some sort of mile-high sage.

“As long as you stay hydrated, drink lots of fluids, and it’s not alcohol, you’re good,” said Johnson.
He also said the Giants, having snapped their own four-game slide after a blistering start, should be aware of how “desperate” Denver will be. He added that on his way out of Denver, he did notice the Broncos lost their swagger.

“After that first loss [Week 7 at Baltimore], the atmosphere changed,” said Johnson. “Guys started acting like they were on a 1-15 team instead of just having their first loss.”

As far as his future, Johnson was forthright and knows the business side of the NFL.

“I don’t know my future here. There’s a possibility I was brought here just for that,” Johnson said of the reason him being in New York is divulge confidential Broncos information.

Blackburn certainly has a future in New York and has the full confidence of his teammates.

“Don’t get me wrong because we’ll miss Antonio [Pierce],” said defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka. “But Chase can play. When you call a guy high-energy, high-effort it’s usually tagged with no talent but Chase can play. He’s an athlete and is smart as well as being a good player.”

-- Another Giant who may now fit into the unsung role is running back Danny Ware. Ahmad Bradshaw, who has been wearing a waking boot on his right foot for an ankle/foot injury, suffered a new ailment to his left ankle, Sunday. The left foot also requires a boot, as the word it could be a high ankle sprain. “After the game, we thought it was just an ankle sprain, but evidentially it’s more severe than that, so he’s in a boot,” said head coach Tom Coughlin. Bradshaw, who didn’t practice Monday, as part of his managed schedule, also did not practice yesterday. His status could be in jeopardy, Thursday, as Coughlin would only say “we’ll see,” in reference to Bradshaw’s availability. Bradshaw was seen wearing a walking boot and using crutches at yesterday’s practice, so it doesn’t look good. Ware, who last week saw his first significant action as the third down back, has only tallied 24 yards rushing, compared to Bradshaw’s 549.

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