With the rain away and the Broncos returned to the practice field at UCHealth Training Center for Day 12 of training camp. (All photos by Eric Lars Bakke)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** In 38 years of NFL coaching, Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips feels that this 2015 Broncos team has the best starting cornerbacks of any team he's ever been with, even rivaling those he's coached in the Pro Bowl.
With a Pro Bowl selection apiece in 2014, Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib certainly have the accolades to their name to justify such praise. Harris had perhaps the best season of any cornerback in the league last year with the highest rating by Pro Football Focus and highlighted by the fact that he didn't give up a touchdown all year. Talib, meanwhile, put up a terrific season of his own, punctuated by four interceptions, of which two were returned for touchdowns.
"They're probably the best," Phillips said. "I've had a lot of really good corners. The latest, the guys in Houston, were really good, but these guys are the best, I think, that I've been around. They rate with the Pro Bowls that I've coached. They're that kind of players."
Talib's big plays in camp drew rave reviews, especially from Head Coach Gary Kubiak, who said: "To me, the difference in this league between a good corner and a great corner is guys that have ball skills. [...] That's what separates him. If he gets his hands on the ball, like I told the guys the other day, 'Let's go to work,' that will be a touchdown, not just turnover."
In turn, Talib discussed Harris' rise as a prominent defender.
"I love it. It's my little brother," Talib said. "It's like my little brother getting the recognition that he deserves. [It's] long awaited, so I'm as happy for him as anybody."
However, the position's talent runs deep into the roster at cornerback beyond Talib and Harris, Phillips added.
"They're really talented, and our other guys — [Bradley] Roby's coming along and [Tony] Carter's coming along."
The skills at the position have been a big point of discussion when it comes to their abilities in helping the defensive line and linebackers put pressure on opposing lines and quarterbacks. They certainly seem poised to do that for Phillips' defense.
As icing on the cake, should Harris and Talib be selected to the Pro Bowl again, it would mark the first time a cornerback duo made the Pro Bowl in multiple years in the free-agency era, and the first time at all in the last 25 years.