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Broncos camp question No. 4: Can Callahan and James play 16 games?

The cornerback and right tackle combined for $23.5 million and virtually zero production in 2019 because of injuries.
Credit: AP
CB Bryce Callahan [L] and RT Ja'Wuan James [R]

DENVER — Newly acquired talent is what triggers excitement.

And Broncos Country is stimulated after general manager John Elway added the likes of Melvin Gordon, Jurrell Casey, Jerry Jeudy, A.J. Bouye, KJ Hamler and Graham Glasgow during the offseason.

Nearly forgotten, but no less pivotal, is the return of two new guys from a year ago, Bryce Callahan and Ja’Wuan James.

The Broncos paid a combined $23.5 million for those two players last year and got zilch in return.

Question No. 4 in our 9-question Broncos training camp series: Can the Broncos get a full season out of cornerback Bryce Callahan and right tackle Ja’Wuan James?

James only deepened the Broncos’ perennial positional hole that has been right tackle. He received $17 million in signing bonus and salary last year and in return played just 63 snaps – about one game’s worth – over three different games. He didn’t make it to the second half in any of them as the left knee injury he suffered in the season opener at Oakland never came around to where he felt comfortable.

Credit: AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
Denver Broncos offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James takes the field on Monday, Aug. 19, 2019.

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Callahan was paid $6.5 million last year and never got on the field in the preseason or regular season. He was coming off season-ending left foot surgery with the Bears when he signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Broncos a year ago.

He made it to a training camp stadium workout in late-July when his injured foot got stepped on in a way that a screw holding his fractured bone together had bent. The pain from the bent screw never relented and after exhausting all rehab possibilities, Callahan had another season-ending foot surgery.

With Bouye the only proven starting cornerback on their roster, the Broncos need Callahan to produce, either in a starting or nickel role. His contract has been modified so that he will play on a reduced $4.75 million payout this season, but that’s still starter money.

James has another $10 million coming his way this year. James and Callahan are very good players when healthy. Or so the Broncos have been told.

A healthy Callahan and James figures to help the Broncos improve on their 7-9 record from last season.

Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Denver Broncos cornerback Bryce Callahan takes part in drills during an NFL football organized training activity session at the team's headquarters Monday, May 13, 2019, in Englewood, Colo.

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