Good morning, Broncos Country!
While there are definitely some depth concerns with this 2019 Broncos roster, i.e., linebacker, edge rusher, defensive lineman - not to mention that no one on the starting offense, especially Joe Flacco, can so much as get the flu this season - there is one position where the talent runs a little deeper.
It’s no embarrassment of riches, mind you, but two players sitting in the backup spots behind Chris Harris Jr. and Bryce Callahan have impressed the head coach as well as Harris Jr. (who just happens to be one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL).
Isaac Yiadom and De’Vante Bausby have continued to shine in preseason after making a strong showing every day in training camp.
“They’ve done well,” head coach Vic Fangio said Wednesday, adding that Bausby has improved a lot since Fangio first worked with him at the Bears and that Yiadom has improved since his shoulder injury from last season. “I think they’ve both improved tremendously. ...I’m pleased with those guys’ progress.”
To Chris Harris Jr., Yiadom has made a big jump in his second season.
“He’s definitely getting a lot better,” the All-Pro corner said. “Like I said last week, he just needs to work on his hands, and he finally caught it. You can definitely see that he’s been working on that and making that improvement.”
Harris Jr. was referring to Yiadom’s interception Monday night off of Bradley Chubb’s pressure on 49er QB Jimmy Garoppolo.
#Broncos CB Isaac Yiadom picks off Jimmy Garoppolo.— Steve Frederick (@_SteveFrederick) August 20, 2019
Nice job by Yiadom to win that 50/50 ball by working back to the ball and embracing the physicality at the catch point. pic.twitter.com/GXTv3sJBOV
It turns out, as Denver Post’s Kyle Fredrickson reported, the defensive backs have a little wager between each other regarding missed opportunities on interceptions - you touch it, you better catch it...or you owe your teammates some cash.
Safety Justin Simmons told the Post that he’s proud of how far Yiadom has come so far this second season.
“I know we’ve been giving him a lot of grief about his missed opportunities in practice. I told him, ‘I don’t care how many times you drop it in practice. You catch it in the game,’” he said. “I’m excited for him. He’s been working really hard.”
Harris Jr. noted that Yiadom’s best asset this season has been his no-fear approach for coverage as a corner.
“I don’t see any fear in him challenging receivers,” Harris Jr. said. “That’s one thing, I think that is the main thing as a corner, you don’t want to play with fear. He’s out there playing with confidence, and when we start going against real big time receivers and things like that, you’ve got to keep that the same.”
No. 25 had a few compliments for Bausby as well, saying the former AAF player reminded him of Dominic Rodgers Cromartie minus the “4.34, 4.32 speed.”
“He’s like DRC, so I can definitely play with him,” Harris Jr. said. “He has great ball skills and great instincts. I like how he plays.”
✈️ The No Fly Zone has a new star in the making. From looking like a classic practice squad player to a standout in the AAF, CB De'Vante Bausby has made a significant impression with the #Broncos in preseason play.— Sayre Bedinger (@SayreBedinger) August 21, 2019
Ball skills? ✅
Closing speed? ✅
This guy is a player. pic.twitter.com/gJnxgapvyc
Wherefore art thou, Special Teams studs?
The biggest concern for the team - and its coach - remains special teams, which has looked downright pitiful in the preseason so far.
Harris Jr. might know why.
“I guess the kids don’t really understand this is how you make the team,” he said, laughing. “It’s a 53-man roster. This is how you make the team - on special teams. They might have to pull out my old clips, my old highlights from special teams my rookie year. Kind of show them how I was and then they can see. Then later on in their career they might be able to play on offense or defense.”
Fangio just wants to see better coverage, better blocking. And he’s not opposed to putting starters out there (so CHJ may not want to brag about his rookie year doing special teams)!
“Obviously, job No. 1 is we have to get the guys that have been out there doing it better,” Fangio said. “If need be, we’ll have to put some starters out there if it doesn’t improve which a lot of teams have done. When I was in San Francisco, NaVorro Bowman, who was one of the top defensive players in the league, was on our punt team for three straight years. It’s not unchartered waters.”
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