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'It would be huge for me': Double-digit sacks within reach for Bradley Chubb, would quiet internal doubts

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —As the Broncos approach the final quarter of their season, Bradley Chubb has another double-digit sack season in his sights.

Chubb, who has 7.5 sacks through 12 games, is on pace to reach the mark for the second time in his career after recording 12 sacks as a rookie.

With another few quarterback takedowns, Chubb would do more than likely secure the Broncos' team lead in sacks for the season. He would also prove to himself that he's made it all the way back from a partial ACL injury that he suffered in Week 4 of 2019.

"It would be huge for me after last year and what I went through mentally in thinking, 'Maybe I'm done. Maybe I can't do this anymore,'" Chubb said Friday. "It would be good to just erase all those thoughts. Having that goal that I set in the beginning of the season and to finally reach it would be pretty cool. I wouldn't be done there. I'll still continue to try and build on it and do whatever I can to be a better player."

In the immediate aftermath of Chubb's injury last year, he vowed he would return stronger from his second ACL tear. Then, as he approached the 2020 season, he again stressed that he felt confident in his return.

On Friday, though, the 2018 fifth-overall pick admitted he had doubts about being able to return to the level of play he turned in before the injury 

"During the rehab process there were days where I'd get sore and be like, 'Oh man, I don't know,'" Chubb said. "I'd be sore for long periods of time. Just a whole bunch of stuff comes into your head and stuff like that. Me being out here by myself, I was just thinking in my head a lot. But at the end of the day, when I started talking to my family and people that are close to me — it brought back out the confidence that I have in myself. So, I would fight it every now and then. It would never be a constant thing in my head that I would never be the same player. It was just sometimes I would have that, 'Maybe, what if? What if I'm not?' and stuff like that. But right now, I've been happy and everything. I've been in the right mindset. So, I'm all good." 

One of the moments that tested Chubb's patience was an Aug. 29 practice at Empower Field at Mile High. Before that afternoon, Chubb practiced in full with his teammates during training camp. During the first half of a simulated game, though, Chubb exited practice when his knee didn't feel quite right. He did not practice again until Sept. 8, and he later revealed that he had tendonitis in his recovering knee.

Chubb said when he aggravated his knee in August, he "100 percent" had doubts about his ability to return to full strength.

"Just because you're getting back to it and the season was getting so close and then boom, it's like, 'Oh man, now what? Now am I going to be out?'" Chubb said. "So, it was a whole bunch of stuff going through your head like that. But when you really sit down and look at it for what it is, it allows you to calm down and that's what I did and just went out there and played the best football I knew how to play."

Chubb got back to that standard soon enough, as he notched 2.5 sacks in Week 4 against the Jets. Beginning with that game, he's had at least one sack in six of the Broncos' last nine games. With 20.5 career sacks, he ranks third in franchise history through a player's first 32 games. Only Von Miller (30) and Elvis Dumervil (21) have more quarterback takedowns through the first 32 games of their careers.

With any luck, he'll add a few more in the season's final four weeks. Both on the stat sheet and in Chubb's psyche, reaching double digits in 2020 would mean quite a bit.

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