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Next-Day Notebook: Parks picks it, Heuerman and Phillips step up, Dixon makes progress


Parks and wrecked**

Rookie safety Will Parks is all about securing the bag. "The bag" for Parks on Sunday was a 3-0 start, and he helped secure it with an interception with 4:20 remaining in the game.

"That just goes to show how them vets are back there," Parks said. "We ain't called the No Fly for no reason. Them vets, they showed us the ropes from Day 1. They've seen something in us — Aqib [Talib], Chris [Harris Jr.], T.J. [Ward] and all those guys — they help me and Justin [Simmons] out, and we're able to go out there and contribute any way possible, so we appreciate them a lot."

With Ward battling a neck injury he suffered in the first quarter and fellow rookie Simmons out with a hand injury, Parks stepped up in a big way.

"We had some challenges and counted on some young players who came in and played well," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said.

With 25 defensive snaps and 13 on special teams against the Bengals, Parks saw his most extensive action of his young NFL career. In previous games, Parks had tallied five defensive and 28 special teams plays.

But none was bigger than his interception of a pass deflected by Ward late in the game.

"It's crazy because when we first started practicing, I used to be real fast on my back-pedal," Parks said. "But T.J. was like, 'Man, slow down. Slow down. You're gonna get a couple.' And, man, I just used the technique the coaches told me in the tipped ball drills."

Tight ends step in, step up

As tight end Virgil Green continued to recover from a calf injury, the Broncos relied upon a new veteran and a young player without a regular-season game to his name to step up in Green's absence.

With wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas having huge games, the tight ends didn't rack up big numbers, but they came up big when the Broncos needed them.

Phillips caught a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the Broncos on top for good. After scoring on the 1-yard play-action pass, Phillips punctuated his big play and first touchdown as a Bronco with a monstrous spike.

"It's always good to get in the end zone," Phillips said. "It's just that the coaches had the confidence to call the play down there. I just had to get open and Trevor made a good throw in tight coverage and tried to deflate the ball and keep going."

The touchdown was the fifth of Phillips' career. All but one of them have been for exactly one yard.

Heuerman, healthy after multiple offseason and preseason injuries, caught his first career pass in the fourth quarter, a 29-yard reception to help set up the offense for Thomas' 55-yard touchdown catch three plays later.

"It was nice to get out there," Heuerman said. "Even before the catch, getting out there and running around, blocking some guys, it was fun just to be back out there and be part of the team. Glad we got this win, and it was a big one."

Dixon finds his footing

After rookie punter Riley Dixon's first two weeks, which Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis called "inconsistent," Dixon had his best game yet.

A look at the Broncos' 29-17 win over the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. (Photos by Eric Bakke unless noted).

Dixon had five punts for a net average of 41.4 yards, including one punt from the Broncos' own 9-yard line that Adam Jones fumbled for a Broncos recovery. Dixon's best punt was a 53-yarder from the Denver 27-yard line to the Cincinnati 20 before Shaquil Barrett and Dekoda Watson brought down Alex Erickson for a meager 4-yard return. "Yeah he did [play well]," Kubiak said of Dixon's game. "We had a big turnover on special teams, and that helped a big deal. Some guys that were called upon today to help us win really stepped up and took advantage of the opportunities."

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