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'I'll be shocked if he's not as good as new': HC Vic Fangio details when Bradley Chubb could return to field

INDIANAPOLIS — When 2018 first-round pick Bradley Chubb returns to the field in 2020, Head Coach Vic Fangio expects the pass rusher to be just as explosive as he was during his breakout rookie year.

"He's there every day with a great attitude and a great work ethic, and I'll be shocked if he's not as good as new when you guys see him again," Fangio said Tuesday at the NFL Combine.

Chubb set a Broncos rookie record with 12 sacks in 2018 and entered last season poised for a breakout year.

He recorded just one sack in 2019, though, and he tore his ACL in a Week 4 game against the Jaguars.

The Broncos placed him on injured reserve after the game, and he has rehabbed since the injury.

Fangio said that rehab will continue for the foreseeable future before he returns to football action.

"You won't see him in the offseason other than working off to the side," Fangio said. "I don't think he'll partake in any football stuff in OTAs. You won't see him football-wise until training camp."

Cornerback Bryce Callahan, meanwhile, could return in time for organized team activities this spring.

Callahan underwent surgery in the middle of last season after he reaggravated a foot injury that he suffered in 2018. He initially reaggravated the foot during a training camp practice in July, and the Broncos held him out of games early in the season. Callahan then underwent a non-surgical procedure and missed more time before he ultimately underwent surgery and was placed on IR.

A 2019 free-agent signing, Callahan did not appear in a game for the Broncos last season.

"I saw him the other day," Fangio said. 'He's been there also working good. He's got the exact same injury he was recovering from last year, so he can compare this year's rehab unfortunately to last year's. And he said he's feeling much, much better right now than he was last year at the same time. I do think we'll see him in OTAs if everything progresses well."

Tackle Ja'Wuan James, another 2019 free-agent signing who saw limited action, will not need surgery on his knee. He is also expected to be ready for OTAs.


If the Broncos are selected to face the Falcons in London in 2020, the team could head across the pond early during the week of the game.

"If we happen to be playing a game on the east coast prior to that, we'll just go from there," Fangio said. "If we happen to be playing a home game, we'll probably leave the day after the game."

Fangio said the 49ers implemented a similar plan in 2013 when he was the team's defensive coordinator and they traveled to London.

While Fangio said he suspects the Broncos will go to London, it is not yet official.

"I'm assuming that," he said of the game. "I'm not announcing that."


When the Broncos last held a joint practice session with the Chicago Bears, Fangio was the Bears' defensive coordinator.

This year, the Bears could be headed back to Denver, according to a 9NEWS report.

"I like joint practices," Fangio said. "I've done a bunch of them. I remember when I was with the Bears, my last year there I brought it up to [Bears Head Coach] Matt Nagy to do it. He had never been around one and I talked him into doing it. In my talk I counted them. Roughly, I had done about 40 of them in my career. He went around and tried it with us. If you remember we came out and worked against the Broncos and he loved it. He wanted to do it last year, but we couldn't get it. It's not official-official, but we should be able to do it this year."

The Broncos have participated in joint practices in each of the last six seasons and have hosted five of the six sessions.


For the first time, Fangio traveled to the Combine but left his assistants back in Denver to study college film.

"When we first decided that, we were going to wonder if anybody even noticed, but then the Rams spilled the beans because they copied us," Fangio said. "I just felt, and John [Elway] agreed with my suggestion, that our time this week would be better spent back in the office. What the guys are doing all this week is just watching college tape Monday through Friday, every minute they're there. I think it's a much better environment to do that. For instance, yesterday I went to weigh-ins early in the morning and I had three interviews late at night. That was my day from a production standpoint here. I just think it's a better use of time for these guys to stay back. I think you evaluate players better when you evaluate them right next to each other instead of evaluating one guy February 20 and then somebody else March 25. It's hard to slice them and stack them sometimes."

Fangio said this year's structure isn't necessarily the long-term answer for the Broncos' Combine process.

"It's a one-year trial kind of like OPI-DPI instant replay," Fangio said. "We'll see how we feel after this year."

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