Bradley Chubb realized after a sackless, winless September that he needed to trust his surgically repaired left knee if his coaches, teammates and fans were ever going to put their faith in him again.
After losing his pass rushing partner to a freak ankle injury when Von Miller got hurt the week of the opener, Chubb got off to a slow start, collecting just six tackles and no sacks in losses to the Titans, Steelers and Buccaneers.
In two October games, he's racked up 3½ sacks, nine stops and a forced fumble in road wins over the New York Jets and New England Patriots.
“He's definitely improving each and every week coming off the ACL,” coach Vic Fangio said Wednesday. “It's harder to see on a week-to-week basis but if you compare Week 1 and Week 2 to Week 5, you would see the difference. He's getting better and better. He's getting more confident on it. He's feeling stronger on it and it's reflective in his play.”
Chubb didn’t think it was going to be that hard coming back from the torn ACL he suffered in Week 4 last season.
“I want to go out there and dominate and be the No. 1 player in everything I do,” Chubb said. “But I had to really look back at myself and tell myself yeah, you didn’t have preseason games, you didn’t have an offseason to really feel it.”
Not that he was making excuses for his failure to make an impact right away.
“I didn’t say I was going to look at them as my preseason games but ... I just had to stop feeling sorry for myself after those first three games and tell myself I’m good, I put the work in, the knee is going to be fine, just go out there and play,” Chubb said.
His personal pep talk worked.
Against the Jets, Chubb collected 2½ sacks, including a takedown of Sam Darnold on fourth-and-3 from the 50 with 2 minutes left and the Broncos clinging to a 30-28 lead.
He added a sack and his fourth career forced fumble Sunday in the Broncos’ first win at New England since 2006.
“Yeah, I feel like my leg’s back under me, and no, I don’t feel like it’s still on my mind. I’m just trying to go out there and make plays as much as I can,” Chubb said. “And I feel like I can’t do that if I’m over here thinking about how my knee feels every five seconds and feeling sorry for myself if it’s not feeling 100%.
“I’ve been trying to be more of a leader, so I had to put it in the back of my head and do what’s more important now and that’s lead this team to get some more wins.”
The Broncos (2-3) host the Chiefs (5-1) on Sunday and Kansas City coach Andy Reid said he sees the same Chubb that he saw in 2018 when the first-round pick out of North Carolina State had a dozen sacks as a rookie.
“Chubb looks really good to me,” Reid said. “He’s playing good football. It looks like he’s back healthy.”
In two career games against Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, Chubb has just a half of a sack, sharing one with Miller at Arrowhead Stadium his first year in the league.
“He’s the best player in the league at the moment,” Chubb said. “He’s dynamic, he can run, he can pass, he can do everything. He’s got an amazing deep ball and got great weapons around him.
“So, when I look at the Chiefs, I feel like he’s the catalyst of that and my job is to be that bull in the china shop, be in his face as much as I can.”
Notes: With RBs coach Curtis Modkins’ COVID-19 diagnosis, the Broncos are in the league’s intensive protocol. That includes having to space out more, so their team meetings are being held via videoconference with players gathered only by their position groups. “We can’t make any excuses,” Chubb said. “We signed up for this and we knew there was going to be some obstacles we had to jump through and this is one of them.” ... Chubb (ankle) was limited Wednesday as were WR KJ Hamler (hamstring), TE Noah Fant (ankle) and NT Mike Purcell (knee).
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