ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — There is more optimism the Broncos will have Bradley Chubb available to play Sunday against the division-foe Chargers.
The first hint came Tuesday when the Broncos waived in-demand cornerback Mac McCain III from their 53-man roster because they needed a roster spot. The Broncos currently have 52 players on their roster with the final spot expected to come from the injured reserve activation of either Chubb or Michael Ojemudia.
Meaning no disrespect to Ojemudia, a second-year, third-round cornerback who is also a fine special teams player, but Chubb has the potential to make the greater impact against a Chargers’ team led by second-year quarterback Justin Herbert, who is an emerging star.
A 6-foot-4, 275-pound outside linebacker, Chubb is strong against the run and tenacious as a pass rusher. He had a team-record 12.0 sacks as a rookie in 2018, when he was the Broncos’ No. 5 overall draft pick, and returned from an ACL injury in 2019 to make the Pro Bowl with 7.5 sacks in 14 games last season.
He has basically been shut out of the Broncos’ first 10 games because of surgeries to both ankles. While this is Chubb’s first week of practice since mid-September and the Broncos normally like to give players coming off extended injuries two weeks of practice before they are activated, the team was on bye last week. And besides, it’s the Chargers.
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio was asked how Chubb looked Monday in his first practice.
“I thought he looked good, and he felt good,’’ Fangio said. “Hopefully, do a little bit more today and then see where he’s at.”
For an undrafted rookie who has only played in one game this season, and that as a special teamer, Mac McCain III sure has instigated a football personnel department fight between the Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles.
Two weeks after the Broncos claimed McCain off waivers from the Eagles, the Eagles claimed McCain back from the Broncos on Tuesday.
Here’s the chronology of McCain’s wild rookie season that has bounced between Denver and Philly:
*Undrafted out of North Carolina A&T, McCain got a $20,000 signing bonus, plus $30,000 in salary guarantee to sign with the Broncos.
*After developing with the Broncos through rookie minicamp, OTAs, veteran mandatory minicamp and the preseason, McCain was among the final cuts prior to the regular season and was placed on their practice squad.
*A couple days before the season opener, the Eagles signed McCain off the Broncos’ practice squad and placed him on their 53-man roster. The difference in pay is $660,000 for big-league roster minimum salary to $165,600 for practice squad salary.
*In the days before the Eagles were to play the Broncos on Nov. 14, the Eagles placed McCain on waivers. Both the Eagles and Broncos made practice-squad offers. McCain let the Broncos know that practice squads being equal, he was going to stay in Philly rather than go through the expense and hassle of moving. So the Broncos put in a waiver claim and placed McCain on their 53-man roster.
*With backup guard-center Austin Schlottomann coming off COVID-19 reserve, and maybe Chubb coming off IR, the Broncos needed roster room. McCain was waived Tuesday by the Broncos with the intention of signing him back to their practice squad. But the Eagles claimed McCain and placed him on their 53-man roster again.
*Per source, the Chargers also put in a waiver claim on McCain but he was awarded to the Eagles who have a worse record. McCain has made the active roster salary every week this season but he has barely played. He knows he’s wanted but at some point a team has to put him on the field.
Boselli, Ware make top 26 Hall of Fame cut but Rod Smith snubbed again
Former Boulder resident and Fairview High School star Tony Boselli has again reached the cutdown to the top 26 modern-era semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Boselli, an All Pro left tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 1990s, has been a top 15 finalist each of the previous five years so he is overdue to become one of the 5 elected.
Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, a long-time Dallas Cowboy who played his final three seasons in Denver and helped the Broncos win Super Bowl 50, also reached the top 26 in his first year of eligibility.
The most notable snub among the 123 Hall of Fame nominees who didn’t make the cutdown to the top 26 was former Broncos receiver Rod Smith, a two-time Super Bowl winner who still holds team records in career catches (849), receiving yards (11,389) and touchdown receptions (68). Inexplicably, Smith has never reached the semi-final round.
Starting safety Kareem Jackson missed his second practice Wednesday because of a shoulder/neck injury suffered during the Eagles game two weeks ago. There remains hope he can play. If not, fifth-round rookie Caden Sterns would likely get his first start.
Inside linebacker Micah Kiser was designated to return to practice. He has been on IR since suffering a strained groin early in the Broncos’ game 7 loss at Cleveland. …
Starting inside linebacker Brandon Browning (back) returned to practice as did starting right tackle Bobby Massie (high ankle sprain). Both are expected to be listed as questionable for the game Sunday against the Chargers but both are trending toward playing.