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Justin Simmons aware of snap streak, but hardly consumed by it

Two nights in Jacksonville puts Broncos on heightened COVID alert.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — There was less than 2 minutes remaining in the game and the New York Giants had zero chance of making up a 20-point difference.

Not surprisingly, Broncos’ star pass rusher Von Miller was shown smiling ear to ear on the sidelines, taking congratulations from his sideline teammates while his defensive mates were on the field trying not to get hurt for a final, meaningless Giant series.

It didn’t work for corner back Ronald Darby, who suffered a torn hamstring on the final series – maybe even the final play when quarterback Daniel Jones rushed for a touchdown that changed the score, but not the winner or loser.

Sitting Miller out for the final 1 minute, 49 seconds made sense. With two sacks and another tackle for loss in the game, he’s still the Broncos’ top impact defensive player. Plus, he’s making a team-most $19.03 million this year. Best to protect the investment, especially when he’s 32 years old and coming off a season-missing ankle injury – and the game was played on the less-forgiving artificial turf.

It may have been a little more complicated to sit safety Justin Simmons for the final meaningless series. He’s the Broncos’ second-best defensive player and the second-highest paid at $17 million this season. Simmons, though, has a consecutive snap streak going. After playing the 61st and final snap against the Giants, his run is now 3,272 consecutive defensive plays over 49 consecutive games, dating back to the 2018 opener. It's the longest current run among defensive players.

Credit: AP
New York Giants center Nick Gates (65) gets into an altercation with Denver Broncos free safety Justin Simmons (31) after a play during an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Denver Broncos won 27-13. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)

Was he given the option of sitting out the final series?

“I knew it was coming, the snap streak,’’ Simmons said, smiling. “No, I wasn’t offered that. And it’s crazy because I never think about it while I’m (out) there, and then I always get reminded after by the X amount of people that I work with body-wise throughout the week. Like, “Hey man, keep it up. You’re looking good.” And I don’t even think about it.

“It’s a blessing. It’s not a testament to me but the people that I work with who always do a great job keeping me healthy. The training room here, the weight staff. I’m really fortunate.”

Individual NFL streaks are not like Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in Major League Baseball or Cal Ripken Jr.’s Iron Man run of 2,632 consecutive games. It’s worth noting Simmons has more snaps in a row than Ripken had consecutive games, but otherwise the feats do not belong in the same, well, ballpark.

The only glory in NFL streaks is the 1972 Miami Dolphins winning all 17 games and the 2007 New England Patriots winning 18 in a row until they became 18-1.

“It matters that I’m available for my team,’’ Simmons said. “I want to be out there. I feel like we have a better chance of success if I’m out there being able to, not just myself making plays but putting the defense in position to make plays. In of itself that matters to me, but the actual recognition of a streak of playing X amount of plays in a row necessarily doesn’t really matter.”

COVID alert

Because it’s a long flight east and an early kickoff Sunday in Jacksonville (11 a.m. MDT), Broncos coach Vic Fangio is flying his team out Friday, a day earlier than usual, with a roughly 9 p.m. EDT hotel arrival. The concern with more hours in Jacksonville is the city has been vulnerable to COVID-19 with eight members of the Saints testing positive after playing there against the Packers last Sunday. (The Saints had to move because of damage Hurricane Ida inflicted upon the city of New Orleans).

“We’ve talked to the (players) about it and I feel confident we’re going to be able to avoid the problems that others have had down there,’’ Fangio said. “We’re only going to be for 36 hours roughly before we get on the busses to go to the game and two of those nights we’ll be sleeping. We’re going to have a normal Friday here and then get on the busses to go the airport. We’ll pull into that hotel about 9 o'clock and basically go to sleep and be there Saturday.”

Bronco Bits

Defensive starters Bradley Chubb (ankle) and Shelby Harris (wrist) practiced on a limited basis Saturday. Chubb sat out the Broncos’ opener against the Giants. Defensive lineman Shamar Stephen (back) and right guard Graham Glasgow (heart) did not participate in practice. …

Glasgow underwent more tests Wednesday for his irregular heartbeat issue and is not expected to play Sunday at Jacksonville, although it was encouraging he was out for the team stretch Wednesday. Netane Muti would start at right guard once Glasgow is officially ruled out.

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