Simmons, a third-round pick out of Boston College, and Will Parks, a sixth-round pick from Arizona, are two members of the eight-man draft class that made the Broncos' initial 53-man roster. The two newest members of the "No Fly Zone" lived together in the team hotel from the beginning of rookie minicamp all the way through the end of preseason, and they've formed a pretty tight bond along the way.* *
*"Rookie Diaries" follows Simmons and Parks as they traverse their way through the season. Football will have a heavy impact on their years, but this space will also allow them to focus on their lives away from UCHealth Training Center. As they adjust to the realities of the NFL, this is their space to talk to each other and, in their words, reflect on life in the pros. *
Sept. 26, 2016 - 'I still can't believe it'
Justin Simmons: I found out I wouldn't be playing the night before. Coach just pulled me aside, let me know. 'Cause it's a long season ahead. Guys get hurt. There was that scare with T.J. yesterday. Thankfully it was just a stinger, but it just goes to show guys can go down anytime. So thankfully my injury is not significant. If I need to I can club it up and go in there and play. We've got a great group of guys on the back end that make plays and do their thing. Right now it's just making sure I heal up and am being patient and when my number's called, I'll get back out there.
Honestly, maybe high school was the last time I missed a game. I haven't been on the sideline of a game and not been able to go out there and at least give my effort for a team win in a long time.
Will Parks: It was super weird not having him out there, but my dog was with me every step of the way on the sideline making sure I was cool.
JS: Heck yeah!
WP:** If he saw something, he'd ask me what call we were in or did we change the call or something like that. It's the same thing and vice versa. We're like each other's mentors out there. He'll be back real soon.
JS: My role was to be a supporter and maybe pick up on some things that in the heat of the battle that you might not see when you're out there on the field. I mean, those guys were good though. Will, the whole secondary, knew what was going on.
WP:That's what we do. We ballhawks. Like I said, we ain't called the No Fly for no reason. Me and Justin, we picked up on that pick. We had to. We next step. We had to be ready to step up and that was my role going in, just to be able to step up and make plays.
JS: They were locked in. I asked a few times what was going on. They explained and maybe I gave my two cents here and there, but those guys did a great job, especially Will.
WP: When the ball was in the air on the interception, I was like, 'Oh, damn -- the ball.' And then it came down and I was like, 'Yo, I got the ball. I'm in the league and I got the ball.' I was securing the bag out there.
I got it to keep. I think Flip and them said they're gonna paint it. Put all the game stats and info on it and then give it to me probably next week. I'm looking forward to it to put it in my first … what do you call it? Man cave? Trophy case? I'm looking forward to it.
I was just like, 'Thank you, God.' Thank you to my teammates. That's only the beginning, though. That ain't nothin' y'all are gonna stop seeing, that's for sure.
JS:** His celebration, it was funny. As far as funny goes, I'd give it an A-plus. I thought it was hilarious. I've never seen a celebration like that. He came off to the sideline, had the ball in his hand, both hands open like a game-clinching interception. It was funny.
We talk about all the time, as far as personalities go, he's just like T.J. [Ward]. Just loud, wild – and that's how they play the game and it's great. Just flying around. And then personality-wise, they say I'm just like Stew [Darian Stewart] – kind of just quiet, mellow, stick to your own little bubble and talked when talked to. It's good, Will's a good dude.
WP:It was surreal. I still don't believe it now but I know I had it at the moment but then it went away because we had to go back on the field after the offense went down and scored on another drive. It was surreal.
My dad texted me after. He always knows I've got room for improvement so he said, 'Good pick, kid. love you.' And that means, 'Good pick, kid. You've got a lot of stuff to work on.' He's one of my biggest critics and that's what I look forward to. That's the good thing about my dad. Even though I made a play, he's like, you've still got a lot of work to do, and that's every game.
JS: First thing Will actually said when he got in the locker room, he goes, 'Yeah, now I'm up 1-0. You're gonna have to catch up.' It's funny, cause like I said, it would be like me vs. you type thing, but I think what's really special about this team is it's a collective team effort. Will and I have bought into that since we got here. There's never been a, 'I'm better, you're better.' It's a collective effort to make sure we get to our ultimate goal, and obviously that's going back to winning a Super Bowl. Definitely looking forward to trying to get up on that stat board. There's three guys already in the secondary with picks. That's obviously the goal, so we'll be good.