BOISE, Idaho (AP) - After missing two games with a bruised kidney, Boise State running back Ian Johnson has been cleared by team doctors to return to practice.
Coach Chris Petersen said Monday that Johnson's status for Saturday's game with San Jose State is uncertain. Petersen says a lot depends on Johnson's health this week and ability to get back in game shape after two weeks of rest.
``Unless we have a weird setback of any sort, which we don't anticipate, we'll get him in the mix,'' Petersen said. ``We want to be smart with him. We've got to get his legs going, see how he holds up conditioning wise, see how he holds up.''
Johnson is the emotional leader on offense and he leads the team with 693 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. His rushing totals are second in the Western Athletic Conference.
But the 21st-ranked Broncos have hardly missed a beat offensively in his absence.
Backups Jeremy Avery and D.J. Harper combined to rush for 277 yards and four touchdowns in Friday's 34-21 victory at Fresno State, becoming the first freshmen to each run for more than 100 yards in a game since 1977.
The duo teamed up the week before for 132 yards rushing and a touchdown in a victory at Louisiana Tech. Avery also caught four passes for 79 yards and a touchdown.
Even with Johnson coming back, Petersen says he intends to keep Harper and Avery involved.
``We'll spread the wealth around a little bit,'' he said.
Together they give Boise State (7-1, 4-0) one of the most explosive running attacks in the nation. The Broncos average 215 yards on the ground per game, second-best in the WAC and 14th nationally.
Petersen says it's easy to praise running backs for that success. But he said the real credit for the Broncos' offense as a whole should go to the line.
The Broncos averaged 487 yards and nearly 42 points per game. The front five have given quarterback Taylor Tharp plenty of time to find open receivers, allowing just 11 sacks.
``We have a really good offensive line and we've known that now for a while,'' Petersen said. ``They're getting in a groove. We certainly wouldn't be doing what we're doing on offense ... it all starts on the offensive line.''
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