ENGLEWOOD — The Denver Broncos are bracing for a showdown with the Miami Dolphins on Sunday and will be doing so without their top backend playmaker on defense.

Denver Broncos will be without Justin Simmons on Sunday vs. Miami Dolphins

Perhaps the biggest story heading into Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins is that the Denver Broncos will be without star safety and team captain Justin Simmons.

Simmons suffered a hip injury during Sunday’s loss to the Washington Commanders and did not participate this week in practice. Denver’s safety position is already hurting, with Caden Sterns out for the year with a season-ending knee injury.

Simmons’ absence on Sunday makes Denver’s challenge of slowing down Miami’s high-octane offense even more difficult. There’s no replacing a player like Simmons or his presence, but the Broncos will have to find a way to manage.

“If you have [S] Justin [Simmons], it’s still hard to get them stopped,” Broncos defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said on Thursday. “Our plan won’t change much. We have guys that we’ve handpicked to be on this team who are going to play for us. I have no issues with those guys. Even last week in the game when those kids were in the game, I was fine. I wasn’t nervous because I watched them play out here on the field. They work hard, and they are smart guys. I have no concerns about our safety depth. Having a scheme to minimize their speed and use the field against them a little bit—that’s the plan. There’s so much speed everywhere. Open-field tackling is going to be huge for us. If it’s one-on-one and they make one guy miss, it can be a 30- or 40-yard gain. Being great tacklers, keeping big plays off of us, winning third downs and trying to play penalty free as best as we can. That’s the challenge this week.”

Kareem Jackson will start at one of the safety spots for Denver this week, but it will be interesting to see if Delarrin Turner-Yell, JL Skinner, or even Essang Bassey will start in his place.

Broncos official injury report and game statuses vs. Miami Dolphins

The Denver Broncos released their official injury report and game statuses for Sunday’s kickoff against the Miami Dolphins.

Outside linebacker Frank Clark (hip) has already been ruled out of Sunday’s game against Miami. Defensive lineman Mike Purcell (ankle) missed Wednesday and Thursday’s practice but was a limited participant on Friday, which designates him officially as questionable.

Sean Payton has Broncos leaving tonight for Miami

Everybody knows that Denver has historically struggled with early 11:00 a.m. MT kickoff games on the East Coast. Sunday’s showdown with the Dolphins is set for that on a day that is forecasted to be around 83 degrees with 74% humidity.

Payton has the Broncos getting to Miami this evening with the team departing a couple hours after practice. He has expressed how important it is to have a solidified schedule when the team has to play somewhere else, particularly on the eastern timezone part of the country.

“We try to stay on our schedule,” Payton said. “We spend a lot of time on hydration and recovery. We leave Friday to get up on their time and practice. I think it is a little more challenging when you come here. We spent all this time studying the altitude, and unless you can come two weeks early, we learned it was better to come as late as possible. Instead of Friday, we were coming Saturday. I think that’s a challenge. Depending on the city—if you head east, there are challenges. If you head to altitude, or if you head to warm [weather]—it’s part of our league. You cover it, and then you go play.”

The Denver Broncos will kick off Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins on CBS at 11:00 a.m. MT.