On a day when the Denver Broncos announced a season-high 18 players to their injury report, they also received some good news.
Safety Justin Simmons wasn’t on it.
Simmons, who was a second-team All-Pro in 2019 and 2021, suffered a quad injury in week 1 vs. the Seattle Seahawks and subsequently placed on injured reserve. Eligible to come off this week, he has been practicing with the team, and if he has his way, he is going to be suiting up Monday night in Los Angeles to take on the Chargers.
He spoke with the Denver media Thursday evening, and while he confessed that sometimes quad injuries, like hamstring injuries, can be deceptive regarding how they feel one day (or in one circumstance) vs. the next, he expressed optimism in his availability Monday night.
“I feel good, and I’m hopeful,” he said. “I’m hoping I can go Monday. That’s the goal. It’d be a good one to come back on, Monday night vs. the Chargers to help get our first AFC West win. That’d be special.”
Simmons, who signed a 4-year, $61 million extension back in March of 2021, shares the sentiments of Broncos Country, analysts (both local and national), and anyone with a functional brain in saying that the Broncos really, REALLY, need to make a statement Monday night.
“It’s a must win,” he said matter-of-factly. “It’s as urgent as it can be. It’s a must win for us on Monday night. They already have winning the division [on their mind], so we need to get ours. It’s must win on Monday.”
While the defense is not exactly the unit most in need of a boost, Simmons, as an All-Pro safety, should make the unit even better assuming he can take the field, and he also plans to bring to the field a newfound knowledge of being a leader. Admitting he felt horrible sitting out, knowing he could help the team if healthy, he learned how to help the team in other ways.
“It was fun to find a new role and dip into a new environment in terms of leadership, learning how to lead without being there,” he said. “I’m a lead by example type of guy, so I like going out on the field and try and spark something with a play but I couldn’t do that. I had to find new ways to contribute to the guys.”
And while much of the NFL world has already written off the Broncos as a 2022 bust, Simmons isn’t so quick to throw in the towel. He told media that he sees a good team who just keeps hurting themselves and that there is room for growth. He also gave a locker room point of view expressing the attitude with this team is different from the past few seasons, and for the better.
“What this team brings is different than teams prior,” he said. “There’s just that belief that we don’t care what the outside world says. We’re all we have in the locker room and all we need. Things haven’t been perfect, but that means there’s a lot of room for improvement.”
Of course, Simmons, hopeful to see his first action since week 1 and being the ultimate teammate, isn’t one to take the mic and express doom. Yet, it is reassuring from a seasoned vet, now under his fourth (!) head coach in 7 years, to do his part in rallying the troops.
He took it a step further as well, if in a more off-the-record manner, in defending the character of his heavily criticized QB, Russell Wilson. Commenting on an Instagram post by Wilson, where he was visiting a children’s hospital in Colorado, Simmons let his allegiance be known to all.
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“We’re going to come [out] on the other side of it,” Wilson said. “The adversity, it builds you. It builds character, it builds perseverance, it builds all of that greatness and all of that tough stuff that people don’t necessarily want to go through."
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