Due to an unfortunate hamstring injury sustained late in Week 1's victory over the New York Giants, Denver Broncos' starting cornerback Ronald Darby has been placed on short-term injured reserve. Rookie first-rounder Patrick Surtain II will be called upon to fill the vacuum created by Darby's absence.
But what role exactly? On Wednesday, head coach Vic Fangio laid out what Surtain will be asked to do moving forward.
“Yeah, he just goes right in for Ronald," Fangio said.
Surtain has received the type of hype reserved for top-10 draft picks since his arrival in Denver and now he gets the chance to live up to his billing against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
Bronco’s GM George Paton has faced accusations of drafting for luxury rather than necessity ever since he passed over the quarterback position to draft Surtain; such was the depth of the team's cornerback unit. Those dissenting voices have now fallen silent in the wake of Darby's early injury, revealing Paton's philosophy to stockpile depth as a wise one.
Surtain played just 16 snaps in Week 1, relinquishing a touchdown to the Giants' Sterling Shepard in the process. Moving forward, it'll be all about putting that in the rearview mirror and preparing for the challenges a new opponent brings.
“I’m going to approach it like a regular week—getting out here and getting prepared, taking it day by day, working hard in practice,” Surtain said this week. “It’s a new opportunity for me to step in and fill the role, so I’m going to be ready.”
Fangio is bound to be frustrated by Darby breaking down after only one game, but he didn’t sound at all flustered by the prospect of plunging the rookie in at the deep end.
“He’ll stay outside," Fangio said of the first-rounder.
Such is the construction of the Broncos' depth chart that Surtain will slide straight into Darby’s spot at right cornerback, with Kyle Fuller remaining on the left side, and Bryce Callahan continuing in his trademark slot position.
Levels of confidence will remain high due to the sheer number of veterans that will line up around the former Alabama star. Team captain Justin Simmons has no doubts that Surtain can excel.
“He’s proven that he can play at the highest level with the best of them his whole career, his whole football career,” Simmons said on Wednesday. “Playing in the NFL for him is going to be no different.”
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