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Mile High Morning: Justin Simmons, Broncos thrilled for Will Parks' return


The Lead

With Will Parks returning to Denver, the person most eager for the reunion may be Justin Simmons.

The two safeties were members of the same draft class in 2016, and over the previous four seasons, they grew closer as friends and teammates. In 2020, Parks' contract came to an end and he joined the Eagles as a free agent, but when Parks was waived by Philadelphia, the Broncos were eager to bring him back.

"It's great," Simmons said Thursday. "The last thing I remember is we played the Raiders at home last year in the final game of the season. We exchanged jerseys because it was a 'you never know what's going to happen' moment. You could be here next year, you could not, on both of our ends. That was special. This is a guy I came in with and spent a lot of time with. Unfortunate what happened in Philly, but selfishly, I'm really happy he's back here and having the opportunity to close out the season with us. He's a great player, and more importantly and selfishly for me, he's and even better friend. Having him around the past four years has been awesome. I'm excited for him to be back."

With cornerback Bryce Callahan now on injured reserve and safety Trey Marshall recuperating from a shin injury, Parks can help the defense in a variety of ways, Head Coach Vic Fangio said Thursday.

"Will's a guy that we liked," Fangio said. "He's versatile. We like him as a player. We like him as a person. I think he's excited to come back here and we'll see exactly how he fits in. Will played the nickel position for us last year, played the dime, he can play safety. One thing with losing Bryce, we've lost some versatility in our secondary because although Bryce had been playing corner the last few weeks exclusively, he can also play nickel, obviously. So, our nickel depth has gone down some, so we needed some versatility to bring back to replace Bryce. Coincidentally, Will got cut and he's a guy we like as a player and a person and like I said, I think he's excited to be back here."

That Parks was such a beloved figure in the locker room is just icing on the cake, Fangio added.

"It's a bonus," Fangio said. "Any time you pick up a guy this time of year, usually it's a guy with not much … if any history with the organization he's coming into. Obviously, that's not the case with Will. … I think he's very happy to be coming back here. What role he'll play when he's eligible to play, which will start next week providing he passes all the protocols, I'm not sure yet."

Below the Fold

The Chiefs' offense does not lack terrifying weapons, that's for sure. The scariest of them all may be Tyreek Hill, whose blazing speed can take the top off of any defense, as we saw in his 269-yard performance a week ago. And recent events may put the Broncos in a tight spot covering him, The Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran writes. "Covering Hill with a full cupboard of defensive personnel would have been tough enough for the Broncos," O'Halloran writes. "But Bryce Callahan, their top cornerback all season, was placed on injured reserve (foot) Wednesday. Bouye will be joined by rookies Michael Ojemudia and Essang Bassey and veteran DeVante Bausby."

In addition to the Broncos' game, fans who bleed orange and blue will want to carve out some time on Sunday for a new episode of Peyton’s Places. The episode, which will be available to stream on ESPN+ beginning on Sunday, features John Elway. He and host Peyton Manning will discuss Elway's development as a young quarterback, break down film of "The Drive" and discuss memories from Super Bowl 50. But the moment you really don't want to miss is when Elway demonstrates the "Elway Cross."

The Unclassifieds

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