Second-year safeties Justin Simmons and Will Parks are ready for their opportunity. After learning behind one of the best secondaries in the NFL last season, the comfort level of both players is far greater than what they displayed in their rookie seasons.

Simmons and Parks spoke with Eric Goodman and Les Shapiro of Afternoon Drive on Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7 to discuss their progression heading into year two.

“So much more comfortable,” Simmons said. “I was telling Will [Parks] the other day, ‘You remember when we came out here as rookies and didn’t really know what we were doing?’ Now, we’re one play away from being starters, so we’ve got to be on top of it 100 percent mentally and physically.”

With starting strong safety T.J. Ward sidelined by a hamstring injury, both Simmons and Parks have had an opportunity to prove their worth in the last week of training camp. However, taking Ward’s starting job is not something on either of their minds. Instead, both are focused on using their opportunity to make each other better.

“We’re focused on making each other better day in and day out,” Parks said. “T.J. is unfortunately unhealthy right now, but we can’t wait for him to recover. We want him to come back healthy, but at the same time that’s just a chance for us to come here and pick up where he left off. There can’t be a beat missing out there on the field.”

“The best thing about our secondary is we’re interchangeable; we’re always in at the same time,” Simmons added. “We carry a defensive package with three safeties, so the best part about it is we’re all getting the same reps. When one guy goes down, we know we just have to help each other out and rotate – especially during camp because there’s so many reps out on the field and you want to make sure you’re healthy enough to get to the regular season. All it is is making sure we’re taking care of each other, rep after rep. At the end of the day, you can still take the [first-team] reps mentally. So, even if you’re not physically getting the one reps, mentally you are and it works out the same way.”

The Broncos will play their first preseason game of the year Thursday against the Chicago Bears, and Ward will not participate. After weeks of competing against each other in camp, Simmons and the rest of the Broncos are elated to be seeing another opponent.

“I’m super excited, I can’t wait,” Simmons said. “It’s finally gonna be good to see a different-colored jersey and fly around and make some plays.”

Listen to the full interview, including Simmons’ thoughts on the team’s first intrasquad scrimmage, in the podcast below.

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Catch Afternoon Drive with Goodman and Shapiro every weekday from 4p-6p on Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7 or stream live any time for the best local coverage of Colorado sports from Denver’s biggest sports talk lineup.