Denver Broncos activate S PJ Locke, drop DB Essang Bassey

On the eve of the most important game of the season, the Denver Broncos activated security PJ Locke off the reserve / COVID roster and gave up defensive back Essang Bassey. With the Cincinnati Bengals in town, the Broncos are safe and with Bassey more of a nickel cornerback, coaches are prioritizing Locke’s skills over Bassey’s, especially with Bryce Callahan’s expected return in initial training.

Starting safety Kareem Jackson is listed as questionable with a back injury, as is No.3 player on the Caden Sterns depth chart, who is treating a shoulder / neck. Chances are Locke is playing.

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Otherwise, fans might finally get a glimpse of fifth-round rookie safety Jamar Johnson in defense. Drafted in tandem with Sterns in the same round, Johnson had the bad luck of a summer injury that slowed his development as a rookie. Meanwhile, Sterns shone in training camp and preseason action, creating a head of steam as his classmate languished to heal his wounds.

Letting Bassey hit the waiver thread is an interesting bet, considering he’s a former starter. But the Broncos are confident he will go through unclaimed waivers so he can be re-signed to the practice squad and stay in the organization’s embrace.

Locke, 5-foot-10, 202 pounds, was placed on the reserve / COVID-19 list on December 10. He’s appeared in 12 games for the Broncos this season, playing 239 special teams snaps leading the team with two specials – tackling teams.

Bassey appeared in a game for the Broncos in 2021 after spending most of the campaign on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) roster. It was activated on November 13.

As a varsity free agent pickup last year, Bassey started three games as a rookie and made 13 competitions as a Bronco before ripping his ACL late in the season. So Vic Fangio loves him unless he asks for a waiver, it’s safe to assume the Broncos will bring Bassey back once he clears the thread.

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