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Caden Sterns getting a starting audition

With Justin Simmons out, the Broncos’ #3 safety will have a month to show what he can do in a full time role.

Denver Broncos v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos will definitely miss Justin Simmons for the next month. Pound for pound, he’s the best player on Denver’s defense. Fortunately, though, the position he plays is among the deepest on the Broncos’ roster.

Enter Caden Sterns. A 2nd year player out of the University of Texas, the former 5th round pick had a productive- even impactful- rookie year that may have flown under some fans’ radar. Starting 2 games in place of Kareem Jackson, week 12 vs the Chargers and week 17 against the Chiefs, Sterns played in 15 games and totaled 311 snaps on the season in 2021. And his time on the field didn’t lack for big plays: Sterns was 3rd on the team for interceptions at 2, with 1 each against the Jets & Cowboys. He also tied for 7th most sacks for the Broncos last year, with 2.0. Not bad for a guy who played just 28.5% of our defensive snaps!

Now Sterns will, if for unfortunate reasons, get the opportunity to start for a solid month across from longtime veteran Kareem Jackson. It’s a golden opportunity for him, and offers important experience that should help him both lift and extend his NFL career. And with Jackson slated to be a free agent after this season, it’s also Sterns’ opportunity to audition to be Justin Simmons’ new partner for the next couple of years.

The former Longhorn will get a pretty ideal first start of the season tomorrow against the Houston Texans and QB Davis Mills. And hopefully he’ll use it to get comfortable and work out any kinks in communication. Because the next 3 games on the slate after that are all against 2021 playoff teams: the 49ers, the Raiders, and the Colts.

The challenge presented by that group, despite their current combined records of 0-2-1 (or 0-2-2 if you include the Texans) should be plenty stiff enough to get an idea of how Sterns can perform in a starting role.

Dallas Cowboys v Denver Broncos Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images

If he excels, Sterns will solidify both his current spot as 3rd Safety and his prospects of stepping up as a full time starter next season. But if he struggles, the competition will get pretty fierce. 3rd year safety and fellow Longhorns alum PJ Locke is also doubtlessly looking for opportunities, and the Broncos’ addition of veteran safety Anthony Harris to the practice squad this week can be seen as insurance in case the young backup(s) struggle.

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