WATCH: Bryce Callahan picks off Drew Lock in training camp

Bryce Callahan in 2019. Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports.
Bryce Callahan in 2019. Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports.

It’s been a long road for Bryce Callahan with the Denver Broncos.

Callahan, who was a stud with the Chicago Bears for years, signed with Denver last offseason. But, due to a foot injury sustained in training camp, he was eventually placed on the Injured Reserve and didn’t play a down for the orange and blue in 2019.

This year, with Chris Harris Jr. gone, Callahan will have to step into a starting role if the Broncos want to keep their secondary among the top-5 in the league.

Everyone’s been waiting more than a year to see him play, and on Friday — the first day of training camp — Callahan made a huge play.

After Drew Lock dropped back and uncorked one across the middle to Courtland Sutton, there was the veteran cornerback to jump the route and pick off the pass.

Now, that’s the Callahan the Broncos need to see a lot of this year.

“Callahan had a good day today in his first action back,” head coach Vic Fangio said. “He actually did have one day of the earlier practice. Again, I haven’t watched the whole day of practice, but he did make some plays out there today. It’s good to see him out there moving around. His foot feels fine. He’s confident and ready to go.”

Rewind to 2018, his last full season (10 starts, 13 games played), and the veteran starred in the slot for the NFL’s best defense in the Bears. He totaled two picks and two sacks that year with six passes defended, but his analytics show even more.

Pro Football Focus rated him at an 81.3 that year, and he was their ninth-best cornerback in 2018. Callahan allowed an 80.5 passer rating against, too.

With Harris gone from the Mile High City, newly signed veteran A.J. Bouye will be the No. 1. Callahan will likely have to step back outside and be the No. 2 cornerback, while one of the youngsters will be the slot man. That could be Isaac Yiadom — who’s shown short flashes of brilliance at times — or Michael Ojemudia, the third-round pick from this year’s draft, with others in competition as well.

Joining them is arguably the best safety duo in the NFL in Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson. If the Broncos want to compete for the playoffs again in 2020, it’s likely one of their strengths will be the secondary.

“Then in our secondary, we’ve got some guys that can be great leaders as well—[CB] A.J. [Bouye] and getting [CB] Bryce [Callahan] back,” Jackson said on Friday. “I think at every level we have veteran guys that know what it takes and that’s played a lot of ball. We’ll be ready and up for the task.”

Broncos training camp continues today as they work to get ready for the regular season and their Monday Night Football kickoff against the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 14.