Broncos getting huge piece back on defense for Steelers matchup

Denver Broncos cornerback Ronald Darby. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos cornerback Ronald Darby. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos have struggled this year with injuries, but they are getting a huge piece back on defense with the return of Ronald Darby.

The Denver Broncos have struggled with injuries in a bad way early in the 2021 season, but they are getting some much-needed reinforcements for the team’s road game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Returning to the field for the first time since week one will be big-money free agent pickup Ronald Darby at the cornerback position.

Darby played every snap in the Broncos’ week one win over the New York Giants but was injured on the final drive of the game as the Giants attempted to score in garbage time.

He told reporters he was ready to go last week, and given the fact that he’s coming off of a hamstring injury, it’s good news that the team was forced to wait an extra week before bringing him back.

Darby’s return to the active roster was first reported by Mike Klis but has been made official by the team.

Denver Broncos plans for Ronald Darby with reloaded secondary

The injury to Darby was certainly unfortunate but it also paved the way for the Broncos to get some significant starting snaps for rookie Pat Surtain II.

Surtain notched his first career interception in his first career start back in week two against the Jacksonville Jaguars and has played fairly well in the two games that followed.

Despite dealing with a chest injury he suffered in the team’s week four loss against the Ravens, Surtain is expected to play against the Steelers and it will be Darby who will be somewhat limited in his reps coming off of injury.

What could this wind up looking like?

Perhaps the plan for Vic Fangio and company will be to have Surtain play the majority of the snaps at outside cornerback and then rotate Darby onto the field as an outside corner with Surtain moving inside to the dime position.

As much sense as that makes, how can the team keep rookie fifth-round pick Caden Sterns off the field after his recent performances?

Sterns had two sacks against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens and an interception the week before that. He’s been making some huge plays in limited snaps, so what will the return of Ronald Darby mean for cutting into the Broncos’ rookie snaps in the secondary?

It will be fun to watch, that’s for sure.

Darby coming back is good news for the Broncos as they are facing off against a very talented group of receivers and skill players in Pittsburgh. At full strength, this Steelers receiver core of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, tight end Pat Freiermuth, and stud rookie running back Najee Harris is tough to contain.

The Broncos have struggled with giving up big plays in recent weeks, so we’ll see what kind of adjustments schematically they make against the Steelers to make sure that kind of thing doesn’t happen again as it has the last few times these two teams have played.

Remember Chase Claypool’s long push off, I mean touchdown, last season?

Remember the JuJu Smith-Schuster touchdown a couple of seasons ago that went nearly the length of the field?

The Steelers are certainly not the only team that has had success with the home run play against the Denver Broncos’ defense and that is an area the Broncos need to fix in a hurry.