Denver Broncos need Kansas cornerback duo to be super

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Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos went through years of having a great cornerback and then an also-ran or a less than stellar one on the other side.

For the last 10 years, Champ Bailey was manning one side of the field. The other side of the field was always a mixed bag with players like Dre Bly, Andre Goodman and Tracy Porter filling the role of the other corner.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was outstanding last season but Bailey seemed to lose a step and was cut in the offseason. Rodgers-Cromartie also walked in free agency.

Now the Broncos are looking at a pair of former Kansas players to become the strong set of corners they have been looking for for years.

Denver knows the player they have in undrafted stud Chris Harris. He has moved his way up the depth chart during his seasons with the Broncos. When players like Goodman or Porter would get hurt, Harris was always ready to fill in and prove that he is worthy of the starting job.
Harris, who is coming off ACL surgery but says he will be ready, will be the starting corner in the opener against the Indianapolis Colts. The corner has seven interceptions in his four years in Denver. He has a knack for the big play as he has returned two of those picks for touchdowns.

“I’m doing great, man,” Harris told NFL.com. “I’m probably about 85 percent right. I have one more month of training and then I finally get (medically) released so I’m excited about that.”

If Harris is healthy, he can cover on the outside and in the slot. The Broncos drafted Bradley Roby from Ohio State in the first round so he will see the field a lot. But if Harris is ready to go, he is the man on one side.

On the other side is Harris’ former college teammate Aqib Talib who signed with Denver as a free agent during the offseason.

Talib, much like Harris, is a physical corner not afraid to put his hands on a receiver. When Talib played with the New England Patriots last season, he was one of the top corners in the league. When New England battled the Saints during the regular season, Talib shut down star tight end Jimmy Graham.

Talib was also a big story in last season’s AFC title game. He was covering Demaryius Thomas until he was injured by a collision with Wes Welker. Thomas took the game over.

Talib is a game changer and is now the Broncos top cover guy. Still, there are injury concerns about Talib. He seems to miss time every season and sometimes bow out in the biggest games. The Broncos hope that is not the case this season.

The Broncos need an improved defense if they are finally going to hoist the Lombardi trophy with Peyton Manning at the quarterback position. Talib and Harris will have to be a big part of that improved defense.

The two corners will also have the aid of a better pass rush this season. Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware will harrass quarterbacks if healthy. When those two are putting pressure on the quarterback, it will be time for Harris and Talib to to make plays.

The Broncos are taking a big risk with Talib and Harris. Both are coming off injuries but plan to be 100 percent by opening week. Talib says he is and Harris seems to be close.

The offense will be there for the Broncos but the defense needs to pull its weight this year. Plenty of that pressure will fall on the two Jayhawks in the secondary.

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