DenverBroncos.com continues its series that keeps tabs on two of the youngest members of the team, safeties Justin Simmons and Will Parks.
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. * Oct. 18, 2016 - Quite the Rush*
Will Parks: That's my game. I want to be around the ball. I just feel like if I'm around the ball, I can make things happen. That's just my mindset. Especially being a defensive player, you don't get the ball as much. You make a tackle, you might get an interception, but me – on special teams and defense – I just want to be around the ball. I want to be that bird that everybody talks about – that ball hawk. That's what I want to be.
"See ball, get ball" – that's what Coach Joe Woods called me one time in camp. I see the ball, I'm getting it, I'm taking it and I'm running with it. That's all that was.
Justin Simmons: Will works hard. He's watching film. He always asks questions to whoever he can and whenever he can to make sure he gets any kind of jump on the other team.
WP:** I didn't know that rule. I thought if you touched the ball in any type of way, it's a fumble. If they punt the ball and it hits one of us, it's a fumble, so what's the difference? It is what it is. That's the league and you've got to respect their rules.
JS: Plays are coming his way and it's good for him and I hope it continues to happen.
For me and my injury, it's always a game-time decision. Throughout the week you get monitored and on game day they ask the doc if I still have to wear the club, and if he's like, 'Yeah, he's got to wear the club,' it's not worth it. I've got to use my hand a lot anyway to make tackles and break on the ball and be able to catch the football so it's a game-time decision. I had to wear the club, so I wasn't able to go.
My jersey was still there, though, so that was pretty neat. Obviously you want to be out there on the field with the team and help in any kind of way that you can, but it was still a really neat experience.
WP: The Color Rush jerseys were fire. It was cool. It was good, just to be able to play in those jerseys. I used to watch them every Thursday last year before I got here, and now I'm playing in them. So it's a great feeling.
I kept mine. I'm about to frame mine right up, yes sir. You're crazy if you trade those. I'm going to keep them every year. Hopefully we do something different with the design but every year I'm keeping them.
JS: It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The game comes and goes and you learn, even for us at an early age, you learn to take it one day at a time and really appreciate what's in front of you.
We played USC one time in college out at USC and other than this past San Diego trip, that was about the only time I've been in California. I think that ties into what I was talking about: appreciating what's in front of you and being able to travel for free for the most part. It's really a neat experience.
It's going to be exciting again this week. That's what everyone talks about: prime time, Monday night. Everyone's watching. And it's just going to be big time.
WP: I'm looking forward to making a lot of plays to help my team get this W, a much-need W against a great team. I'm going to study extra hard this week, like I've been doing. Nothing's going to change. The only thing that's going to go up is my focus.
JS: If you're a big-time player, you're going to make those plays come Monday night. I am looking forward to getting back out on the field with the guys and just grinding.