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'You always want to receive those accolades for your play': Newly minted Broncos Pro Bowlers reflect on what their selections mean to them

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Cornerback Pat Surtain II has received a wealth of hardware for his spectacular play on Sundays, and his plaque for the Demaryius Thomas Team MVP Award added another prestigious award to his collection — and created a unique problem for his display.

"They're stashed away in the basement in the crib," Surtain said of his awards. "I've got a little awards section. I'm running out of a little room, so I've got to come up with a new side of things."

Surtain's other distinction from this week won't take up nearly the same amount of space on his shelf: his second consecutive Pro Bowl selection.

Surtain joins safety Justin Simmons and wide receiver Marvin Mims Jr. as the Broncos' three Pro Bowl selections and will compete in the 2024 Pro Bowl Games in Orlando in February. The Alabama product recorded at least 10 pass breakups for the third straight season and made a crucial red-zone interception against the Jets in Week 5.

After practice on Thursday, Surtain explained what the back-to-back Pro Bowl selections meant to him.

"The Pro Bowl is such a big thing … especially individually," Surtain said. "You always want to receive those accolades for your play, but it's a huge honor to be recognized as such around the league by my peers and even the fans just voting me in, just thinking that I'm that caliber of a player. It means a lot in general."

Simmons will make his first in-person Pro Bowl appearance after earning his first nod in 2020.

After missing two games at the beginning of the season, the longest-tenured Bronco took off in the following weeks with three interceptions in a four-game span. Simmons played a crucial role in the defense's midseason resurgence and earned his first AFC Defensive Player of the Week award for intercepting a pass and recovering a fumble against the Chiefs in Week 8.

"It means a lot," Simmons said. "… When you get to a point in this league and get recognized for your play from the opposing coaches, opposing players and things like that, it means a lot when your name gets put up there with some of the best in our league. I'm just honored."

Simmons also offered encouragement to guard Quinn Meinerz and fullback Michael Burton, who were named as alternates for the AFC's squad.

"For Mike and Quinn, earning alternate — I've earned that a few times, and I know it's just going to drive them and continue to help make them the players that they'll become as the years go on," Simmons said.

Earning a Pro Bowl as a rookie return specialist is an impressive feat, and it's one that Mims did not expect at all when the season started.

"I'd say [the selection] is icing on the cake," Mims said. "I never really expected it coming in. I mean, I didn't really know much about returning at this league, but to get it, it's amazing. Huge thanks to the special teams for that."

Mims' stats back up the impact he has had in the return game and the respect he's earned from peers and coaches around the league. Mims is one of four players with a kickoff return touchdown this season, and he has spearheaded the league's best punt and kick return teams by average yardage.

Mims deflected credit for the honor, explaining how his teammates on special teams literally paved the way for his selection.

"It's a great honor," Mims said. "A huge testament to my teammates and the special-teams unit. They gave me great looks all season, and we kind of led the league in both return averages, and it ended up working out great. Just to be able to be recognized as a Pro Bowler for this conference and then represent our special-teams unit is a great honor."

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