Will Parks stepped up big in Broncos win over Raiders

SANTA CLARA, CA - AUGUST 19: Vance McDonald
SANTA CLARA, CA - AUGUST 19: Vance McDonald /

Denver Broncos second-year defensive back Will Parks stepped up in a big way in the team’s win against the Oakland Raiders…

There has been a good amount of outrage from many Denver Broncos fans so far this season about the release of veteran safety T.J. Ward. Perhaps rightfully so. Ward was an excellent player and key member of the Broncos’ championship team, but his replacement(s) in the secondary — Will Parks and Justin Simmons in particular — are slowly and surely proving why the Broncos felt they could make that decision.

In the Broncos’ victory over the Oakland Raiders in week four, Parks made one of the key plays of the game on a fourth down and short, where the Raiders had the (easy) decision of handing the ball off to running back Marshawn Lynch.

The whole Broncos defense flexed its muscles on this running play, but it was Parks in particular who did something very ‘Ward-like’ in making the key play.

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Parks has been a very nice player for the Broncos, selected in the sixth round of last year’s draft. He almost immediately contributed to one of the league’s best defenses as a rookie, and also contributes on special teams at a very high level.

While Justin Simmons plays more of a center-field role for the Broncos, Parks was phenomenal in this game against the Raiders as a run defender, also grading well in the passing game.

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He finished with four total tackles and three stops in the run game, tied for the team lead. Parks, however, played 15-22 fewer snaps than the other guys who had three stops for the Broncos in this game, so he was extremely efficient with the plays he was given.

This is the kind of play the Broncos expected from their young safeties when they made the tough decision to say goodbye to T.J. Ward. They knew they had not only one (Simmons) but two (Parks) options to replace Ward and also carry over that cash to next year’s total.

With the leadership of Darian Stewart (who also had three stops in this game) and the rest of the players in the secondary for Denver, this was the perfect time for the switch to be made. It might have taken a couple of games to get going, but both Parks and Simmons ranked atop the Broncos’ defensive list in terms of overall game grade against Oakland.

These guys can ball, and they each made one of the most critical plays in a critical division matchup.