Bryce Callahan thrives in slot for Broncos defense


ENGLEWOOD, Colorado – As the Broncos approach their Week 6 game with the Raiders, there is some degree of uncertainty at the cornerback position.

Ronald Darby has returned from the reserve injured, and the Broncos are monitoring his week of training before deciding whether to start – and who he could potentially replace in the team’s basic defense.

Still, while questions remain as to which combination of Darby, Pat Surtain II and Kyle Fuller is expected to be on the pitch for the Broncos’ defense, there is apparently no doubt who will line up in the slot. for the Broncos.

Bryce Callahan, healthy again after a late-season injury in 2020, returned to his strong playing caliber, and he was a key player in the Broncos’ high school for five weeks.

“Really good,” head coach Vic Fangio said of Callahan’s play. “There are even two games, when he had to come in and play in the corner because of an injury, he came out with no problem and broke a pass in the end zone. Bryce is a hell of a good football player. . “

Callahan has struggled with injuries – he’s only appeared in 15 of 37 potential games since joining the Broncos – but when he’s on the court, few are better in the slots.

According to Pro Football Reference, Callahan has granted a 40.6 passer rating when targeted this season; Only three defensive backs were better. His 2.8 yards allowed per target also ranks fourth among defensive backs, and the opposing quarterback completion percentage of 31.3 against Callahan is the third lowest in the league.

“Just being at the heart of my technique, knowing what to do with each play,” Callahan said of what made him successful. “Dive into the playbook, so I can anticipate what they’re going to do with certain looks. I’m just trying to be a professional and stay on top of my business.”

Callahan has enjoyed success despite a different role than he had in 2020. A year ago, Callahan played the majority of his snaps on the outside cornerback. This season he returned to the slot machine, where he took almost all of his shots.

“Just to get on the pitch,” Callahan said of his mentality at the start of the year. “Wherever I am [the] best fit, i will play. … If I am the best nickel, I will play nickel. And vice versa around the corner. “

On Sunday against the Raiders, Callahan could find himself embroiled in one of the game’s most critical clashes. Las Vegas wide receiver Hunter Renfrow is third on the team in receiving yards, and has 13 catches for the opening downs this season.

“Really fast, really elusive, great instincts for football [and] tough to face after catching him, “Fangio said Thursday.” He is truly one of the best pitches in the league. “

If Callahan can limit Renfrow – especially after the capture – it could help give the Broncos the edge the team need. And after a few injury-scarred seasons, Callahan is currently playing at the high level needed to achieve it.

“He’s stayed the course and he’s moving really well right now – he’s playing well,” said defensive coordinator Ed Donatell of Callahan’s ability to fight despite the adversity of the past few seasons. “He really is the kind of kid he is. He’s a really consistent person.”

In five games, Callahan has yet to allow a touchdown, according to Pro Football Focus. Denver will no doubt hope that this kind of consistency continues.

After a two-game losing streak, Von Miller said he knows the importance of rebounding against the Raiders. And while his pre-game proclamations against the Ravens and Steelers may have been premature, in retrospect he said the team must respond in a game of rivalry.

“We just have to win,” Miller said. “I have to rethink my approach in how I label some of these games. Maybe calling the Ravens game a playoff game was too early for our team. Maybe some of the things I said about them. Pittsburgh Steelers and the kind of game we were supposed to play, maybe it was too early. It’s definitely not too early for the Raiders. We have to play well from start to finish. It’s a huge game. for us.

Miller has said he believes the Broncos could have won both games in the team’s two-game slippage, but he knows the team must take advantage of their opportunities.

“There are so many games for everyone and so many other games that we left out,” Miller said. “We have to start making these games to come out with a win.”

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