The bloom on the rose of the Denver Broncos' vaunted secondary is in jeopardy of losing some of its luster after 9NEWS' Mike Klis reported on Tuesday that starting cornerback Ronald Darby is headed to injured reserve.
"Per source, Broncos are placing CB Ronald Darby on short-term IR (hamstring) per source. Suffered on last series of game. This is why you don't trade away good corners," Klis tweeted.
Fortunately for the Broncos, first-round pick Patrick Surtain II is waiting in the wings to fill the vacuum. That's a very timely plan B to go to war with.
Darby played well in his debut as a Bronco after signing a three-year, $30 million free-agent deal this past spring. The contract gave Darby $19.5M in guarantees.
When the Broncos made the acquisition, that was the only concern I had about Darby; his health. Since entering the league as Buffalo's second-round pick back in 2015, he's missed a lot (and I mean a lot) of time.
Although he'd miss three games over his first two seasons, from 2017-20, Darby would be absent from 20 games due to injury. That's a lot of time spent in the tub — not helping himself or the club.
The Broncos wisely capitalized on the opportunity to sign Kyle Fuller only a few days after Darby was locked up when the Chicago Bears made the sudden decision to summarily cut the former All-Pro. Fuller — a long-time Vic Fangio acolyte — played his best ball under the coach in Chicago.
Fuller was up-and-down in his debut as a Bronco but played well in the red zone. Surtain was also inconsistent in his limited snaps, relinquishing a touchdown in coverage to New York Giants' wideout Sterling Shepard.
Bryce Callahan remains healthy and is one of, if not the, best nickel corners in the game. Should Surtain falter, Callahan has the versatility to play outside the numbers too.
Klis reports that the Broncos have signed Nate Hairston to the active roster and Rojesterman Farris to the practice squad in the wake of the Darby injury. Hairston has been with the Broncos since last December while Ferris spent most of training camp and preseason in Denver.
With Von Miller, Dre'Mont Jones, and eventually Bradley Chubb getting after the quarterback, that should take a lot of pressure off the secondary. But moving forward, the on-paper depth of the Broncos' secondary will be tested to the utmost.
Surtain is going to have to grow up in a hurry if Fangio's defense is going to realize its potential in 2021.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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