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!
Last year, Caden Sterns was one of just seven defensive backs with at least 2 interceptions, 2 sacks and 5 passes defensed.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) September 15, 2022
The others had at least 500 snaps. Sterns accomplished that stat line in 311.
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.
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.
Broncos & NFL News
Join Phil Milani and Aric DiLalla as they discuss the Broncos’ red zone issues, the loss of Justin Simmons, and whether the Texans game is a must win.
Dominant defense needs to be more than just halftime adjustments. Aric DiLalla discusses the goal of a complete defensive show of dominance versus Houston.
Check out a reel of photos of the Broncos’ Week 2 practices courtesy of Broncos’ team photographers Ben Swanson and Gabriel Christus.
Greg Rosenthal makes his Week 2 picks, including picking the Broncos to take the W over the Texans 24-16.
The NFL’s lead draft writer, Eric Edholm, picks apart key elements of the Chargers loss to the Chiefs on Thursday night football.
The Chiefs, and particularly their quarterback, have an annoying facility for getting out of- or just plain lucking out of- tough spots and would-be turnovers created by bad plays or bad decisions.
Check out how the NFL is working with Germany’s association football (i.e. soccer) league to expand the NFL’s presence in continental Europe.
The ESPN staff predict Week 2’s winners and losers, including picking the Broncos over the Texans.