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Bradley Chubb welcomes expectations of becoming Bradley Chubb again

The gifted pass rusher is healthy for the first time in three years.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Bradley Chubb walked over in bare feet after having just finished his post-practice sessions with a message, yoga, and the tub. Regeneration Day, they call it.

“Man, I feel incredibly flexible right now,’’ he said as he got situated in the 9NEWS guest chair.

It’s all about taking care of the body these days for Chubb, who along with newcomer Randy Gregory is one of the Broncos’ top two outside pass rushers. Gregory is still mending from shoulder surgery and has yet to take the practice field. Chubb has been injured each of the previous three years but feels good now.

“Feeling really good,’’ he said. “Feeling the best I’ve felt in a while. Being able to go out here and go 100 percent every day, it’s just an amazing feeling. It’s good for my confidence, it’s good for everything around.”

It’s good because all eyes and one big microscope are on Chubb this year. The Broncos’ first-round draft pick in 2018 – and the 5th player taken overall – Chubb met expectations as a rookie when he registered 12.0 sacks to break Von Miller’s first-year team record.

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There have been just 8.5 more sacks total in the three seasons since then, zero in 2021 when an ankle injury and COVID-19 limited him to just 7 games. He will be paid $13.93 million in this the fifth and final year of his contract so there will be pressure on Chubb to have a big comeback season. He welcomes such attention.

“I’m ready for it,’’ Chubb said. “Pressure is a privilege and to have everybody looking at me to do big things -- I mean, I’ve done it in the past, now I have to repeat what I’ve done.”

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett chats with linebacker Bradley Chubb (55) as he takes part in drills during the NFL football team's training camp Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, at the Broncos' headquarters in Centennial, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Chubb is now described as big, strong, talented – and injury-plagued. There was a season-ending ACL injury in game 4 of 2019. A season-ending (final two games) right ankle injury that eventually required surgery in 2020. A season-ruining left ankle injury that required in-season surgery in 2021. The injuries are now part of his story, even if it's tiresome to hear it.

“You do get tired of it, for sure,’’ Chubb said. “You try to keep it out of your mind and then outside people bring it in and tell you and ask you about it, but I’ve found ways to compartmentalize and work through it. I hear it on the outside but in my mind I know how to push it out and just keep positive thoughts in.”

His thoughts have expanded since he went back to North Carolina State to take two classes in the spring semester as he works towards his sociology degree. Generally speaking, the purpose of college is to get a higher-paying job than those who don’t receive a higher education. Chubb received a $17.9 signing bonus before playing his first professional game in 2018 and by this season’s end, he will have made $41.54 million in career earnings.

What does he need college for?

“I promised my mom that I was going to get my degree when I first went to college,’’ he said. “Fortunately, I was able to come out and go to the NFL draft but I told her I had to keep that promise, so I’m chopping away at it little by little. It was a good experience. Nobody really bothered me too much on campus.’’

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After last season, returning to a college campus where the future is unknown but nevertheless stirred by boundless potential was what Chubb needed. There was one moment with the Broncos where Chubb wondered about what’s ahead. He had missed the season-opening win against the Giants last year because of his ankle injury but tried to give it a go in game 2 at Jacksonville.

As he tried to maneuver around the left tackle late in the first half, Chubb’s ankle gave out. He was on all fours, head down, pounding his fist on the wet turf in frustration. The decision to have another ankle surgery was pretty much made before the team’s charter plane landed back home.

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos outside linebacker Bradley Chubb (55) takes part in drills during the NFL football team's training camp Friday, July 29, 2022,in Centennial, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

“Probably the lowest I’ve been, 100 percent, because the knee injury in 2019 and bouncing back from that in 2020 (with 7.5 sacks in 14 games),’’ Chubb said. “And then in 2021 coming back from the ankle, doing everything I could and then boom, the left one goes out, too. It was a compounded thing that kept happening and it was just one of those things where I was sitting on the field and, man, where do I go from here?’

“But I’m here now. I fought through all that and I’m just glad to be back.”

After taking Sunday off, Broncos players will return Monday for their final four days of training camp. There will be full pads Tuesday and Thursday when the Dallas Cowboys join the Broncos for a joint practice. Then it’s a walkthrough Friday and the first preseason game Saturday against the Cowboys at Empower Field at Mile High, where it would be a surprise if any of the starters from either team play given their intense competition on Thursday.

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Staying healthy is the primary goal for Chubb this season with the idea that sack numbers will naturally follow. He believes Camp Hackett – where every third training camp session is a light, jog-through – will be good for his health.

“He’s real player-friendly when it comes down to making sure we take care of ourselves, making sure he gets the best out of us when we’re actually going,’’ Chubb said of first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett. “Guys want to play for him. Guys want to go all-out. Guys want to give it 100 percent each and every day because we know at the end of the day he’s going to take care of us and look out for us and we’re going to bounce back and take care of that next day, too.”



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