Broncos defense finds joy in last chance to “build the bond” together


Something in Denver’s defensive individual drills Thursday didn’t look quite right.

The defensive backs worked their normal backpedal and lateral slide drills under the eye of secondary coach Christian Parker, but two of the men with the smoothest footwork were… defensive linemen Jonathan Harris and Mike Purcell?

Actually no, that was defensive backs Pat Surtain II and Justin Simmons, just donning Nos. 92 and 98, respectively.

A small bit of fun in the final week of an overall dreadful season for the franchise, to be sure. But there’s also a message worth reading in the gesture, too.

The defensive group, for all the losses and change the Broncos faced this season, loved playing with each other and has stuck together to the bitter end.

“You’ve always got to find a way to have fun out there no matter the situation because we enjoy playing football together and we enjoy getting out there with our teammates,” Surtain said Friday. “We’re continuing to try to find ways to have fun, build the bond, spread the love. That’s the main thing. Obviously, we didn’t reach the goals that we wanted to get to before the season.”

Some teams in this position would have grown miserable by now. Defensive players showed frustration with the offense’s putrid performance through the middle of the season, but they’ve made it clear how much they enjoy taking the field and playing for first-year coordinator Ejiro Evero.

“The league is a business in general,” Surtain said. “A lot of guys be moving, a lot of guys be coming in, so you never know exactly how a team is going to look. That’s why you’ve got to enjoy the time you have with each other no matter what.”

That hasn’t been difficult for this defense this year.

“We hang out a lot, especially the DBs,” third-year safety P.J. Locke said. “We hang out every Thursday for dinner and I feel like that shows on the field a lot of the time. We hold each other accountable and basically just want to see the next guy succeed. That camaraderie and that chemistry that’s built off the field shows on the field.”

How much of it will be back next season? Change is a constant in the NFL and management has decisions to make not only on the coaching staff but on free agents-to-be like defensive linemen Dre’Mont Jones and DeShawn Williams, linebacker Alex Singleton and safety Kareem Jackson.

“Still feel like I’ve got a ton of gas left, at least in my mind to say I want to play two more years,” Jackson told The Post. “Physically, my body’s been holding up pretty good. Obviously, it takes a lot, but the coaching staff, (Nathaniel) Hackett when he was here, (Evero) and (Parker), those guys do a great job of taking care of me and the training staff as well.”

Make no mistake, this season hasn’t gone the way anybody on the defense wanted.


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