Ronald Darby knows his first season with the Broncos left something to be desired.
The veteran cornerback hurt his hamstring in the season opener, costing him the next four games, then missed the final two games with a shoulder injury. In the 11 games he did play, he had six pass break-ups, but no interceptions.
“Of course I want to force more turnovers — we all do (on defense),” Darby said. “That’s what I’m going to focus on this year, is getting some INTs. And working on some technical stuff… I want to do a lot better than I did last year. And I’m gonna.”
Darby’s in the second year of a three-year, $30 million deal he signed last March. He switched his number from 21 to 23 for 2022, and cited double-digit pass break-ups (which he’s done five times in seven seasons) as another tangible goal. Darby has eight career interceptions but none since 2019 with Philadelphia. Staying healthy will be critical, as his 2017, ’18 and ’19 seasons were also affected by injuries.
And Darby’s high expectations for 2022 extend beyond himself. He called having Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson (re-signed on a one-year deal) back as anchors at safety “a blessing,” and described new nickel back K’Waun Williams as “real twitchy, and he can move really smooth.”
Darby also predicted Pat Surtain II will earn his first Pro Bowl nod in his second season.
“We know what (Surtain) can do on the field — we’ve all seen it,” Darby said. “It surprised me how quickly he picked up the defense last year. Not a lot of guys can come out of college, get thrown in to a starting role and play as good as he did. To me, he had a Pro Bowl year last year, and I know he’s going to continue to build on that.”
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Three agree to terms. The Broncos started the process of getting some of their draft picks under contract Wednesday, agreeing to terms on four-year deals with fifth-round center Luke Wattenberg, sixth-round defensive end Matt Henningsen and seventh-round cornerback Faion Hicks.
According to the slotted value of draft-pick contracts, Wattenberg’s deal is worth $3,947,719 ($287,719 signing bonus), followed by $3,822,081 for Henningsen ($162,081 signing bonus) and $3,761,678 for Hicks ($101,678 signing bonus).
Jersey numbers. The Broncos have assigned jersey numbers to their nine draft picks — receiver/returner Montrell Washington, 12; cornerback Damarri Mathis, 27; Hicks, 29 ; safety Delarrin Turner-Yell, 32; outside linebacker Nick Bonitto, 42; Wattenberg, 60; tight end Greg Dulcich, 80; Henningsen, 91; and defensive lineman Eyioma Uwazurike, 96.
Schedule released Thursday. The extravaganza that is the NFL’s schedule release process hits the finish line Thursday at 6 p.m. with the full slate unveiled. Teams are permitted to announce their home opener at 4 p.m.
Once the Broncos’ regular season schedule is announced, the club will put on sale a limited inventory of single-game tickets. All full-price tickets plus ADA and club seating will be available for purchase through Ticketmaster.