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Broncos notes: Veteran corner Sensabaugh signed as Bausby goes to IR

Pound per pound, Kareem Jackson among league's best tacklers; Harris on Harris
Credit: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (24) plays against the Cincinnati Bengals in an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Pittsburgh.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Given their desperate dilemma at cornerback, the Broncos did pick up such an experienced cornerback as Coty Sensabaugh on Tuesday.

The Broncos signed Sensabaugh, who had played at least 13 games in his previous seven NFL seasons, to take the place of cornerback De’Vante Bausby, who was placed on injured reserve with the neck injury he suffered Sunday.

Both transactions – the signing of Sensabaugh and Bausby’s move to IR – were first reported by 9News.

Sensabaugh won a workout audition Tuesday morning at the Broncos’ UCHealth Training Center, beating out veterans David Amerson and Shareece Wright, along with Deatrick Nichols and Chris Campbell.

Sensabaugh, 30, is considered both fast (he ran the 40 in 4.42 seconds at his NFL Combine seven years ago) and smart, qualities that will help him play sooner rather than later.

He was selected by the Mike Munchak-coached Tennessee Titans in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. Sensabaugh broke in as a No. 3-4 cornerback who played the slot but he wound up as an outside corner his previous two years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where Munchak was their offensive line coach.

Munchak is now the Broncos’ offensive line coach so he and Sensabaugh are with their third team together. Sensabaugh has never played less than 13 games in a season. He started 15 games for Tennessee in 2015 and 10 last year for the Steelers.

After his two-year contract with the Steelers elapsed in March, Sensabaugh had opportunities to sign with multiple teams but as a veteran he wanted to be patient and find the right fit.

RELATED: Broncos defensive back De'Vante Bausby: 'I was paralyzed for the first 30 minutes'

The Broncos need him and need him to pick up Vic Fangio’s defensive system in a hurry. Besides Bausby, the Broncos are also waiting for cornerback Bryce Callahan to heal up from his foot injury, and hoping Isaac Yiadom can play his way out of his slump.

Duke Dawson Jr. and Devontae Harris, second-year corners who until three weeks ago had only played special teams in their young NFL careers, could be the Broncos’ No. 2 and 3 corners Sunday against Tennessee.

Chris Harris Jr. is the Broncos’ top corner but because he is in the final year of his contract, there is a chance Denver may listen to offers as the trading deadline approaches in three weeks.

Yiadom, a starting corner through the first three games, has drifted further down the depth chart the past two games.

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos defensive back Kareem Jackson, left, forces a fumble by Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler at the goal line during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Little guy can hit

Pound for pound, Kareem Jackson has to be among the league’s best tacklers. He is 5-foot-10 and needs a double-bacon cheeseburger for lunch to tip 185 pounds.

Yet, the Broncos’ safety is a prolific and hard-hitting tackler. After missing the Jacksonville game with a hamstring injury – and the Broncos’ defense got trampled for 229 second-half rushing yards without him – Jackson led the team with 10 tackles Sunday against the Chargers, including a heroic, goal-line stop of Austin Ekeler on the final play of the first half.

"I’ve always been a willing tackler, even back to my rookie year," Jackson said. "It’s just one of those things I take pride in because not a lot of guys in secondaries around the league like to get dirty and tackle.

"For me, I feel like throughout the game, that can definitely turn some situations around. You might have a couple of guys come across the middle and may not like to get hit. In those cases, maybe we can get a deflection or something, maybe they may not want to catch the ball and we can get a pick or whatever the case may be. I just try to put my body on their body and do whatever I’ve got to do to get them down."

Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery (32) is pursued by Denver Broncos defensive tackle Shelby Harris (96) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Denver.

Harris and Harris Light

Do you realize that going into final season at Illinois State, Shelby Harris was listed at 255 pounds in the Redbirds’ media guide? He’s listed at 290 pounds in the Broncos’ media guide now, but teammate Chris Harris Jr. wouldn’t be surprised by Shelby’s college weight listed.

Shelby Harris never was properly sized for the NFL nose tackle position.

Against the Chargers on Sunday, Fangio moved Shelby Harris to right defensive end and inserted 328-pound Mike Purcell into nose tackle.

'Honestly, with Shelby at the nose, my opinion, I think we were a little light, coming from (Domata) Peko," Chris Harris said. "Peko, that’s a big boy to replace in the middle right there. He’s consistent and he’s done it 10 plus years, even longer than that. We’ve seen that.

"Mike coming in, he did a great job for us and Shelby can move to the right end and he played well off that, made a lot of plays."

Ho-hum reaction

Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders was asked why after his team lost its first four games the players didn’t emote more jubilance following their first win of the season Sunday in Los Angeles.

"At the end of the day we have a very deep hole, right?" Sanders said. "We’re not out of the hole. I don’t know if it’s excitement or the focus to say it’s not time to get excited. It’s not time to pat ourselves on the back. We’re still looking up saying, ‘Man, we’ve got a long ways to go to get ourselves out of this hole.’

"At least that’s how I feel so I’m overly focusing trying to get another win, back-to-back wins and that’s where my mind is. I don’t have time to be excited over one win when we’re sitting here at 1-4.

I’m worried about that next, trying to get us to two and try to get us to three. That’s where my mind is. I hope and I feel that’s the reason why it feels that way."

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