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Broncos OTA notes: No more leaping, body bump celebrations for Justin Simmons

"No celebrating, period,'' Simmons said with a smile at his post-OTA press conference Wednesday. "That's definitely taken out of the playbook.''
Credit: Justin Edmonds
Justin Simmons runs onto the field during player introductions before a game against the Dallas Cowboys at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 17, 2017 in Denver, Colorado.

ENGLEWOOD – Justin Simmons was having his breakout season.

He had more than outplayed locker room favorite T.J. Ward, the safety Simmons replaced in the Broncos’ starting lineup. Simmons displayed sideline-to-sideline range when asked to play the role of free safety. He had surprising pop as a tackler that belied his long, slender frame (6-2, 202) when he moved into the box as a strong safety.

But then Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall forced a strip sack of Jets’ quarterback Josh McCown early in Game 13. Broncos’ defensive end Adam Gotsis recovered the fumble and Simmons celebrated with a leaping body bump of Marshall.

Simmons’ foot came down awkwardly on Marshall, twisting his ankle. His breakout season was finished with three games to go as the Broncos made the cautionary move of placing Simmons on season-ending injured reserve.

An adjustment has been made.

“No celebrating, period,’’ Simmons said with a smile at his post-OTA press conference Wednesday. “That’s definitely taken out of the playbook.’’

Simmons said in ordinary circumstances, the ankle sprain would have forced him to miss the next game four days later at Indianapolis last season, but not the final two against Washington and Kansas City.

“I think the most frustrating part was that I could’ve played,’’ he said. “But due to the circumstances of the season not going the way we wanted it to and just letting other guys get in there and see what we had as far as backups and other guys getting some playing time for the future -- that’s what it came down to.’’

Ray will have surgery

A second medical opinion confirmed the first: Broncos’ outside linebacker Shane Ray needs surgery on the same left wrist that caused him so many problems last year. Ray missed half the games and was not himself in the other half.

He is again expected to miss the start of this season, although there is hope he will return sooner than he did last season.

The problem with wrist injuries is it’s almost impossible to keep the upper body strong. Upper body strength is a must for edge rushers if they are to beat those 300-pound offensive tackles.

While this is another tough break for Ray, the Broncos are better protected against his absence this year. This year his replacement will be rookie Bradley Chubb, the Broncos’ No. 5 overall draft pick.

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