Broncos return favor in grabbing rookie back from Eagles

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday but the games have already begun.

Two months after losing cornerback Mac McCain III when the Eagles plucked him from their practice squad, the Broncos on Wednesday returned the favor, signing McCain off waivers from Philadelphia.

Broncos cornerback Pat Surtain II, the ninth overall draft pick in 2021, didn’t practice Wednesday after leaving Denver’s 30-16 win at Dallas late in the fourth quarter with a sprained knee.

Before Denver put in a waiver claim, Eagles coach Nick Sirianni was asked about McCain and fellow rookie cornerback Kay Vincent Jr., a seventh-rounded draft pick the Broncos traded to the Eagles recently for a sixth-round pick even though Vincent didn’t play a snap in Denver.

“They’re both doing well, Sirianni replied. “They’re both doing well. We did have to cut Mac yesterday just to make room on our roster for Jordan Howard, our running back. Mac was really good here. We’re hoping we get him back, to be honest with you. Mac has done a good job, especially on the scout team. He had a little bit of run in the Cowboys game when he was up, and he’s just done a good job.

“We just felt like that’s such an important position—that cornerback position. We had an opportunity to get both those guys on our roster. We took advantage of it because they both have a lot of talent,” Sirianni added. “As I’ve gotten to know both of the guys, they’ve got high football character and (I’m) looking forward to continuing to work with those guys. We definitely just saw the talent. The preseason games particularly with Mac, and then the speed with Kary. We’re excited to have them on our roster.”

Several hours later, Sirianni learned the Broncos (5-4) had grabbed McCain back just four days before the Eagles (3-6) visit Denver.

McCain is a rookie from North Carolina A&T State University who signed with Denver as a college free agent in May and spent time on the Broncos’ practice squad before being signed to Philadelphia’s active roster on Sept. 7. He appeared in one game for the Eagles, logging 15 snaps on special teams in Week 3 at Dallas.

When training camp opened, Broncos coach Vic Fangio said, “Mac’s a young guy, limited college background in what he’s been exposed to from a football standpoint. He’s learning. He’s got a long way to go to be a regular player in this league, but we like his potential.”

The Broncos also activated tight end Noah Fant from the reserve/COVID-19 list and signed cornerback Duke Dawson Jr. to their practice squad Wednesday.

Fant, who is second on the team with 37 catches and three touchdowns, had been on the COVID-19 list since Nov. 2.

Dawson was activated from reserve/PUP on Monday and he’s a candidate for a roster callup this weekend. He’s played in 26 career games with the Broncos, who acquired the former 2018 second-round pick from the Patriots in 2019.

Surtain was among a season-high nine Broncos held out of practice, including six starters. The other starters were: LT Garett Bolles (ankle), RT Bobby Massie (ankle), WR Tim Patrick (knee), DE Shelby Harris (non-COVID-19 illness) and OLB Malik Reed (hip).

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