Barring a setback in his recovery from ACL surgery, Essang Bassey appears assured of a roster spot with the Denver Broncos.
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio revealed Monday the former undrafted cornerback is “definitely a factor” among the team’s overcrowded secondary and anticipates “good growth” in his second NFL season.
The sooner Bassey returns to full strength — and it might be a little while yet — the sooner he returns to Denver’s playing field.
“His recovery has been going well. He’s been really patient in his rehab, doing everything the trainers are asking him to do. He’s jumped right in and after it with [WR] Courtland [Sutton] and ‘Big O’ (TE Albert Okwuegbunam),” Fangio said. “Those guys have worked tremendously. Once he gets back healthy and starts practicing, he’s definitely a factor in our secondary. He can play the nickel position and he can play the dime position. He got to play there last year and did fine. We expect him to have good growth in his second year. He’s a guy that once we get him back—I’m not sure when that will be. It may not be until the end of camp or later that he’s totally cut loose. We’re hoping to see him pick up where he left off.”
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Bassey Impressed Prior to Injury
A standout at Wake Forest, Bassey signed with the Broncos in April 2020. He made his big league debut that September, playing 45 snaps in the season opener. By October, he was thrust into starting duties as the injury bug ravaged Denver’s secondary.
By November, Bassey notched his first career interception. By December, he fell victim to the aforementioned bug, suffering a torn ACL amid the Broncos’ Dec. 6 loss to Kansas City.
Bassey finished the season with 21 solo tackles, two pass deflections, one INT and one fumble recovery across 12 games and three starts — 382 defensive snaps (35%) and 79 special teams snaps (17%).
The 22-year-old tentatively is penciled in behind Ronald Darby, Kyle Fuller, Bryce Callahan, Patrick Surtain, and Michael Ojemudia on the 2021 depth chart. Denver also has rookie Kary Vincent and veterans Duke Dawson and Nate Hairston as backup depth headed into training camp.
The Broncos scrambled to sign the two-time Pro Bowl corner upon his March release from the Chicago Bears. But the urgency wasn’t reciprocated as Fuller chose to skip Organized Team Activities and only recently reported to Dove Valley for minicamp practices.
Fangio helped recruit Fuller to the Mile High City, having coached the 2018 NFL interceptions co-leader in Chicago. He wasn’t thrilled about Fuller’s extended absence this spring but foresees no extended “learning curve” this summer because of it.
“I’m sure it will be [quick],” Fangio said Monday. “I saw Kyle. We happened to walk in the building today at the same time. I saw him in meetings and saw him out on the field. I’ve seen him just a little bit more than you guys. He should have a very, very fast learning curve. There are some things that we’re doing here that we didn’t do [with the Bears] and some things he hasn’t heard in a couple years. Overall, it should be about as easy as it can be for a new player.”
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