WATCH: Broncos CB Bryce Callahan Flaunts Surgically Repaired Foot
One of the most frustrating aspects of the Denver Broncos' 2019 campaign was seeing two of the team's three prized free-agent acquisitions suffer season-ending injuries. In fairness, right tackle Ja'Wuan James never landed on injured reserve as the Broncos tried fruitlessly to massage his knee injury through the regular season.
But at least James suited up and appeared in three games. When it came to cornerback Bryce Callahan, though, he missed all 16 games in 2019 due to a foot injury.
After having surgery last fall to fix what turned out to be a broken screw in his foot, which snapped ostensibly when a teammate stepped on the injured limb in training camp, Callahan has now head more than half a year to rehab, recover, and work back to full strength.
To showcase just how far he's come in his recovery, Callahan allowed a video of him working out to be released, which made clear where he's at health-wise.
The foot injury that plagued his first year in Denver was originally suffered in his final month as a Chicago Bear. After undergoing surgery to repair his broken foot, Callahan was placed on IR to finish the 2018 season. Just three short months later, he became an unrestricted free agent.
With Callahan having been in the belly of the beast that was the Bears, Chicago had first-hand knowledge of his foot injury and prognosis and chose not to pursue him for re-signing. Denver's first-year head coach Vic Fangio, however, was in the Windy City as the Bears defensive coordinator and wasn't dissuaded from signing the nickel corner to a three-year deal worth $21 million to make him a Bronco.
As the Bears secondary coach, current Broncos defensive coordinator Ed Donatell personally coached Callahan through all four years of his Bears tenure. Perhaps none, including Fangio, knows what Callahan is capable of more than Donatell.
Donatell has maintained an optimistic outlook on Callahan's recovery and revealed in a virtual press conference a couple of weeks back that the sixth-year corner is back to full health.
“First of all, on the medical side, he’s ready to go," Donatell said back on June 11. "He’s running full speed. He’ll be right in our camp and ready to go. He’s been totally engaged.”
While it's encouraging to hear a coach speak positively of a player recovering from serious injury, what's actually convincing is any evidence to support it. With no in-the-flesh OTAs due to the pandemic, media and fans alike have been unable to catch a glimpse of Callahan.
Now we can say with confidence that Callahan is back. It's just a matter of finding a way to stay healthy throughout the entire 2020 season, which Callahan has never been able to do as a pro.
Entering the league as a college free agent out of Rice University in 2015, Callahan has missed at least three games in each of his five NFL seasons. Here's to hoping that 2020 is the year he snaps that dubious streak and manages to keep the injury bug at bay for 16 games.
Callahan projects as the Broncos' No. 2 cornerback in base defense, while kicking inside to the slot in nickel and dime sub-packages. The Broncos acquired 2017 Pro Bowler A.J. Bouye via trade from Jacksonville this past spring and drafted Iowa's Michael Ojemudia in the third round.
Combined with young incumbents like De'Vante Bausby, Isaac Yiadom, Duke Dawson, and Davante Harris, the Broncos have no shortage of bodies at cornerback. It's just a matter of the unproven guys stepping up and showing strong development in 2020.