Justin Simmons uncertain to play vs. Bears

Josey Jewell, Mike Purcell ruled out
Justin Simmons
Posted at 5:40 PM, Sep 29, 2023

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Seeking their first win this season, the Broncos will likely operate without a safety net.

Justin Simmons, limited in practice for three days, returned to the side field on Friday, indicating that he could miss his second straight game with a groin injury that first sidelined him during training camp.

The communication and coverage suffered as Delarrin Turner-Yell replaced the All-Pro. Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa completed his first 17 passes and finished with four touchdowns. The defense surrendered a franchise-record 70 points and 726 yards.

If Simmons cannot go, Turner-Yell remains the top option to replace him, playing alongside veteran Kareem Jackson. That leaves nickelback possibilities as Ja’Quan McMillian and Essang Bassey along with corners Pat Surtain II and Damarri Mathis. The secondary remains a prideful unit and aims to bounce back.

“You never want to have a game like we had last weekend. Like we said after the game when we sat down and talked, ‘That’s not us. That’s not who we want to be.’ It’s on us to turn it around, and it’s up to do that on Sunday,” Turner-Yell told our Denver news partners.

Added cornerback Damarri Mathis, who has struggled this season after a strong rookie campaign, “We are getting a lot of our aggressiveness back, all 11 to the ball, just getting that back on tape. Last week, I don’t feel we put our best effort out on tape. We are going to get a lot of the same stuff this week we saw last week because we know it’s a copycat league. We are just going to be more aggressive.”

Neither the Broncos nor Bears will be at full strength defensively. The Bears secondary is littered with injuries, including standout safety Eddie Jackson, who was ruled out. The Broncos announced that linebacker Josey Jewell (groin) and nose tackle Mike Purcell (ribs) will not play. Rookie Drew Sanders will start in Jewell’s place, looking to rebound after the Dolphins used his aggressiveness against him.

Cushenberry misses with illness

After the most difficult season of his career last year, mired by injuries and ineffectiveness, center Lloyd Cushenberry played well in training camp and early this season. However, he left practice during stretch with trainers and did not return because of illness. The Broncos backup centers include Oregon rookie Alex Forysth and Luke Wattenberg. Payton said Friday that Cushenberry should be fine.


The Broncos have not won a road game in the United States since Nov. 7, 2021, at Dallas. That streak spans 12 games. The Bears have lost 13 straight overall games dating to last season.