ENGLEWOOD—Some rookies are more difficult to pick on than others.
Justin Simmons should have gained some locker-room cred this week when it was discovered he played at least three quarters with a broken left hand Sunday in the Denver Broncos’ 34-20 win against the Indianapolis Colts.
A rookie safety, Simmons suffered the injury when his hand got caught in a face mask.
It wasn’t until after the game the fracture was discovered. Simmons figures he played about 35 of his 40 defensive snaps with his broken hand. So if anyone was picking on the rook, lay off!
"It was just one of those freak accidents," Simmons said. "It wasn't totally bothersome. … Now it's just about making sure the bones heal right and that it's not an injury that keeps you out even longer."
Simmons practiced with a cast on a limited basis Wednesday. The Broncos may list him as questionable for their game this Sunday against Cincinnati but there’s a reason why the team re-signed strong safety Shiloh Keo this week.
Sambrailo, Heuerman, Fowler ready to go
Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak said the offensive line had issues once the team lost right tackle Donald Stephenson to a strained left calf Sunday. Stephenson won’t play Sunday so it makes sense for Ty Sambrailo to suit up this week.
Sambrailo, who is capable of playing right guard and both tackle positions, has not played since Game 3 of his rookie year last season because of a torn left shoulder (last year) and hyperextended right elbow (this year). Kubiak indicated Sambrailo, Michael Schofield and Darrion Weems could all get work on the right side.
“I can see us getting into a rotation-type thing,’’ Kubiak said of the offensive line. “We have our seven and will probably play them all, actually.’’
With starting tight end Virgil Green also suffering a strained calf, the Broncos are expected to have Jeff Heuerman make his NFL debut this Sunday. Heuerman, a second-round draft pick in 2015 who has not played because of a torn ACL (last year) and sprained hamstring and ankle (this year), and John Phillips were the Broncos’ only healthy tight ends practicing Wednesday.
“I think watching (Sambrailo and Heuerman) practice Thursday and Friday has a lot to do with how I feel about them,’’ Kubiak said. “But I think they’re ready to go if they keep making the right progressions.’’
Backup receiver Bennie Fowler (fractured elbow) also practiced on a limited basis Wednesday.
It’s about the pass rush
Yes, the Broncos have terrific corners in Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr., and Bradley Roby. And yes, T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart are hard-hitting safeties. But in today’s NFL with all the offensive-favorable rules, defensive backs can’t shut down receivers like they could seven or eight years ago.
The Broncos’ defense, though, adjusted by turning up the heat up front.
“I think the thing that stands out is the pass rush obviously,’’ Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton said in his conference call with the Denver media Wednesday. “They’ve done a great job getting to the quarterback. They have eight sacks in two weeks and you see that stand out.’’
Okung, Harris Jr., Paradis voted Broncos union rep
Bronco players held their annual union meeting Wednesday afternoon with NFL Players Association boss DeMaurice Smith.
Left tackle Russell Okung, a first-year Bronco but seven-year NFL veteran, was voted as the team’s union rep. It makes sense as Okung represents himself in contract talks sans agent, which means he is more familiar with collective bargaining agreement issues than perhaps any other active player.
Bronco players also voted cornerback Chris Harris Jr. and center Matt Paradis are union rep alternates.
Stewart was fined $9,115 for his elbow to Andrew Luck’s helmet on Sunday. His second offense was lighter than his first. He was fined $18,231 the previous week for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Cam Newton. At this rate, Stewart would only be fined $4,557 if he knocked Dalton in the helmet this Sunday. (He more likely would be suspended for one game as a third-strike offense). …
Backup linebacker Corey Nelson didn’t practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury. Another linebacker, Dekoda Watson, was limited because of an elbow injury. …
Running back C.J. Anderson showed up on the injury report with ribs, but he was a full participant in practice.
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