The defense was a bright spot in the loss to the Colts last week, and one defender in particular was shining brighter than the rest.
With two interceptions and three batted passes, the second-year safety filling in while Justin Simmons is on IR, was getting it done on Thursday night.
The first interception came before the half. Matt Ryan and the Colts were driving into Broncos territory and Sterns patiently awaited the chance to pounce. And that came with a pass to tight end Kylen Granson that Sterns read perfectly before jumping in front just in time.
“I just read the quarterback’s eyes and I got a pick,” Sterns said matter-of-factly following the game. “Collectively, everybody was doing their job. When we all do our jobs, good things happen. It felt good.”
Sterns gave credit to the rest of the defense doing its job so he could be in a position to do what the Broncos have been desperately trying to do for the previous four games - get turnovers.
“It’s huge playing on the back end with Pat [Surtain II] and ‘K-Jack’ (S Kareem Jackson) and all those guys,” Sterns said following his big night against the Colts. “I wouldn’t be able to do this without them and obviously wouldn’t be able to do this without the pass rush as well.”
When I watch #Texas S Caden Sterns, I constantly write down "range" and "quick trigger." Makes plays from depth, can play that mid field, single safety role, brings versatility and is a special athlete (elite pro day testing).— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) March 18, 2021
Tons of upside and potential with solid ball skills. pic.twitter.com/mSx2FbhJaR
Bradley Chubb, who was responsible for much of that pass rush, had great things to say about the young safety.
“Huge, it’s huge,” Chubb said of Stern’s heads-up play on Thursday. “He stepped up to the challenge. It’s fun to watch him play, watch him grow as a safety.”
And Chubb has a little secret about Sterns. Apparently the former Longhorn is (or “was”) not fond of tackling.
“When he first got here, he didn’t like to hit,” Chubb said. “I won’t lie to you; he didn’t like to hit. Now you see him in the box, trying to get the ball out and do everything he can to make plays for the defense, so it’s fun to see.”
So now the Broncos have a slight dilemma - what to do with the standout backup when the starter comes back to play? Assuming Simmons is healthy and able to come back to his post, Sterns may have just earned himself a starting role beyond just playing the dime backer.
“I’ve said all season there shouldn’t be any drop-off if I have to go in for (Simmons or Jackson),” Sterns told Kyle Newman for the Denver Post. “And hopefully, that’s what I’ve proved.”
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