ENGLEWOOD, Colo — With every possible effort in his stiff and sore body, De’Vante Bausby bent over slowly in front of his locker and gradually put on his sock.
Task performed, he slowly unfolded his body to stand straight. Then he spent the next minute or so putting on his T-Shirt.
Did he feel like he had been in the proverbial car wreck?
“I don’t know, I haven’t been in one of those,’’ Bausby, the Broncos’ starting cornerback who was accidentally clobbered by teammate Alexander Johnson during a game Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, said in a private interview with 9NEWS on Tuesday. “I’m feeling pretty good, though, just moving slow. And kind of weak.’’
The occupational hazard that is the violent, collision sport of football changed Bausby’s story from minor-league underdog who became a Broncos starting NFL cornerback to one of medical survival.
He was about to tackle Chargers running back Austin Ekeler from the front seconds into the second quarter when the linebacker Johnson flew in from behind and hurled his body at Ekeler. Johnson missed the ball carrier. Instead he delivered an unintentional forceful blow to Bausby’s head and neck area.
“I never saw him,’’ Bausby said of Johnson, who expressed deep remorse about his teammate’s injury after the game.
Bausby lay motionless for several minutes on the field until he was strapped on a backboard, lifted onto a cart by several medical personnel and then placed immediately into an ambulance where he was taken to a Los Angeles trauma center.
Was he ever scared?
“Mm, a little bit. Not really,’’ he said. “I was paralyzed for the first 30 minutes. I couldn’t feel nothing. Then after 30 minutes I could wiggle my toes. And after a couple hours I could move my full body.’’
So it was scary. The good news – and there is so much good news considering the possibilities here – is tests at the hospital revealed no concussion-like symptoms. It was strictly a neck injury, which is bad enough.
“I was conscious, I was awake the whole time,’’ he said.
The bad news is Bausby will not be able to play again this season. Although he said he was planning on returning to play this season, the Broncos placed him on injured reserve at 2 p.m. Tuesday. The team could not afford to keep two injured cornerbacks on their 53-man roster. The other, Bryce Callahan, has yet to play because of a foot injury, but there is hope he can return after the week 10 bye. Callahan is currently hoping a stem-cell shot in his foot area takes hold.
The Broncos brought in reinforcement by signing veteran cornerback Coty Sensabaugh, who has played extensively in the NFL with Tennessee and more recently with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Based on how much Bausby was laboring to perform the most rudimentary tasks we all take for granted, it’s no doubt for his own good that he can recover at a slow, healthy pace rather than rush back to playing the sometimes brutally physical game of football.
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