ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Members of the Denver Broncos secondary, which has been a key part of a defense that statistically has been the most difficult to throw against in each of the last two seasons, have proudly worn the "No Fly Zone" label along the way.
The nickname has come complete with T-shirts and socks as the Broncos finished No. 1 in pass defense in both 2015 and 2016.
The four starters -- cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib as well as safeties T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart -- each have played in at least one Pro Bowl over the last two seasons. The group also has welcomed Bradley Roby, who has played more than 60 percent of the defense’s snaps over the last two seasons as the nickel cornerback, as a formal "No Fly" member. "Ro is in there, no doubt,'' Harris has said.
For the other players on the depth chart at those positions, it’s difficult to even get on the field and there are high expectations in terms of holding up the standard. But that group of backups, including safeties Justin Simmons and Will Parks as well as cornerbacks Lorenzo Doss and Taurean Nixon, has its own tag.
Simmons and Parks were in the Broncos’ 2016 draft class while Doss and Nixon were in the 2015 draft class.
“It was amazing, it was truly a blessing,’’ Simmons said Thursday of working behind the Broncos starters. “I say that with the utmost respect to them. Myself and Will and few other guys consider ourselves 'Baby No Fly' right now. We’re still learning the tools of the trade in order to carry that 'No Fly Zone' logo around with us.’’
Simmons, who made two starts last season, and Parks showed enough in last summer’s training camp for the Broncos to take the rare step of having a rookie as the backup at both safety spots last season. With the departure of Kayvon Webster in free agency, Doss has the chance to be the team’s fourth cornerback in the rotation and play in the dime package (six defensive backs) in some situations.
Simmons made some appearances in the dime package last season as well. The Broncos had one cornerback in this year's draft class -- Brendan Langley, a third-round pick who at 6 feet tall, 199 pounds, still was one of the fastest players in the draft.
“Those guys are truly the most selfless guys I’ve ever met,’’ Simmons said. “They just want to win, they don’t care who’s on the team with them, they just want to win.’’