Presumably, the Denver Broncos have drafted a replacement for David Bruton Jr. and it will be either Justin Simmons or Will Parks. If they are unable to get up to speed quick enough, then Shiloh K'eo may get the backup safety position.
Aside from being interviewed by The Afternoon Drive with Eric Goodman and Les Shapiro above, Simmons also met with the media after practice. Both showed me that Simmons could be a player in this league.
From Simmons first post-practice presser, it sure seems like he has the attitude and drive to get up to speed fairly quickly. And frankly, it was admiration for the Broncos organization itself that has set him apart from other rookies over the years. Most are in awe, but Simmons just seems to love everything about this franchise. As a fan, that gives me all the feels.
On his first impressions at practice, Simmons said, "It was great. It’s everything so far that I expected. Great organization—[they] do it really well. I’m really excited to get out here and learn under [Defensive Coordinator] Coach [Wade] Phillips, [Defensive Backs] Coach [Joe] Woods, [Assistant Secondary] Coach Samson [Brown] and the secondary. It was great."
He clearly soaked in the experience, and focused on retaining all of the information the coaches tried to give him.
"Just the little bit of details within the game," Simmons said of what he learned. "You already have a broader knowledge of what you should be doing and how you should be doing it, but now it’s just really focusing on details and really harping on technique and fundamentals."
One practice in and Simmons seems to understand that he won't be able to rely just on pure physical talent at this level. It's the little things that he is finding out are the most important factors of competing in the NFL.
The heart and soul of the No Fly Zone, T.J. Ward stopped by to give the rookie defensive backs some words of advice before heading out to their first practice. Simmons shared that experience.
"We met T.J. actually right in our defensive meeting before we headed out onto the field," Simmons said. "He was just like, ‘Hey, you guys just go out there and have fun.’ Really pay attention to what Coach Woods and Coach Samson are telling you. They obviously know what they’re doing. We’ve got a few Pro Bowlers in the room. Just really lock in and listen to what they’re saying. He looks forward to working with us on Monday."
One has to wonder what it's like to be brand new in the NFL and have a guy come in who you watched win a Super Bowl a few months ago giving advice. To Simmons, it meant more than just words before practice.
"It meant a lot," Simmons said. "First of all, a guy being in here when he doesn’t have to, just showing the hard work it takes to be where he’s at. A guy of that caliber, that’s where you want to be. Seeing that makes you want to work even harder to get to that point."
It helps that he is coming into a secondary group that is the NFL's best unit. Simmons doesn't have to worry about starting and learning every nuance of this defense. He can play his role and grow into a potential starting position some time down the road. It's the perfect situation for a young player.
"I would say nothing but good," Simmons said. "You’re talking about talking about playing with the best defense in the league. For me to come here and to learn under them, regardless of what the future has in store, is just an amazing opportunity. Like I was touching on earlier, obviously you have a broader knowledge of the game. But really learning from the vets and from the coaches here, your technique, your fundamentals and really working through that is what I’m looking forward to most."
Simmons had a lot to say about what it personally means to him being a Denver Broncos now. His attitude is exactly what you would hope from a high character guy. You can sense that he's going to be a leader in the locker room someday.
"It’s tradition. It’s the winning tradition," Simmons said of what it means to him being a Bronco. "It’s carrying yourself with class, high character and most importantly [where] Coach Kubiak hits it hard is carrying yourself as a professional. Making sure that you know it’s no longer Boston College in front of my name or even my last name with Simmons. It’s Denver Broncos before anything else. In doing that, it’s more than myself. It’s more than even the people that have come just a little bit before me. It’s that past tradition. It’s that winning tradition. It means a lot. It really makes you want to carry yourself the right way and have the right mindset when you’re in the facility and even out off the field as well."
I don't know about you, but this whole interview just impressed the heck out of me. If Simmons can walk the talk, he is going to be a special player in this league.
All that is left now is to see how he picks up his assignments in this defense. Can training camp and preseason football get here already?
Eric and Les chat with James Palmer of NFL Network who shares his observations from the Broncos rookie minicamp on Friday.