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Mile High Morning: Broncos teammates, alumni celebrate Justin Simmons after third Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nomination

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The Lead

Safety Justin Simmons has emerged as a leader in the locker room, on the field and in the community since he was drafted by Denver in 2016.

Currently in his sixth season with the Broncos, Simmons has dedicated himself to working in the Denver community. He has worked closely with many community outreach programs, including Denver Rescue Mission, ACLU of Colorado, the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club and the NFL's PLAY 60 initiative.

Simmons has volunteered at nearly 40 Broncos community events this year, and he continues to find new opportunities to engage with the community. He has also established his own foundation — the Justin Simmons Foundation — which focuses on youth development.

Simmons' dedication to the community is mirrored on the field as well, where he serves as a team captain, defensive leader and one of the top safeties in the league.

So it's easy to see why, for the third consecutive season, Simmons has been named the Broncos' Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee.

Following the Broncos' announcement, Broncos players and personnel, along with Simmons' high school and college football teams and community organizations he has partnered with, took to social media to congratulate Simmons and celebrate his accomplishment.

In addition to his candidacy for the national award, Broncos Country can vote for Simmons to win the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year presented by Nationwide Charity Challenge, which provides the winner with an additional $25,000 to donate to the charity of his choice. Broncos Country can vote for Simmons by tweeting '#WPMOYChallenge' followed by either Simmons' last name or Twitter handle (@jsimms1119) now through Jan. 17, 2022. A retweet also counts as a vote.

Below the Fold

Running back Mike Boone, who saw his first major game-day action as a Bronco during Sunday's loss to Kansas City, is determined to stay ready for the next time his number is called.

After suffering a quad injury during a joint training camp practice with Minnesota, Boone was sidelined for the first three months of his Broncos' tenure, he returned to action in Week 6 behind starter Melvin Gordon III and breakout second-round pick Javonte Williams, who have combined to form a complementary one-two punch in Denver's backfield this season.

"[Boone] finally made his Broncos debut in Week 6, but mostly as an expensive special teams player for his first four games before finally getting a shot at tailback against Kansas City," the Denver Post's Kyle Newman wrote.

After an injury sidelined Gordon for Denver's Week 13 matchup with Kansas City, Boone seized the opportunity to shine. He rushed four times for 35 yards and recorded a 19-yard catch-and-run as the No. 2 rusher behind Williams.

Boone's performance during the bout with Kansas City impressed Head Coach Vic Fangio, who commended Boone's successful return to the offense.

"He hadn't played in a live game since (Aug. 12) with Minnesota," Fangio said. "He had no preseason action, no carries or catches in any of the games this year. Under those circumstances, in an important (divisional) game like that, I think he played really well."

Boone's performance also caught the attention of someone else — "Good Morning Football's" Kyle Brandt, who awarded Boone and G Quinn Meinerz the famous Angry Runs scepter for a furious 14-yard gain.

Boone was grateful for his opportunity to contribute to the offense vs. Kansas City, and he also said that his quad injury hadn't hampered his play during the matchup.

"That felt good to come in and contribute and help the team out," Boone said. "(With the quad injury), out of nowhere I was sprinting and then I felt a sharp pain. That's what happened. But I'm over it. I didn't think about that (Sunday) at all while I was running. I felt good out there."

Though Gordon returned to practice on Wednesdday, Boone is determined to remain ready for his next opportunity, which could come at any time.

"I'm staying heavy in the training room … and when my number's called, it's about executing and being (reliable)," Boone said. "Hopefully (I get more carries), but that's not my decision. Whenever they call my number, I'll be there."

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