SE[TEMBER 13: Payton confirmed on Wednesday (via Denver7’s Troy Renck) that Sterns, who has been placed on IR, is not expected to return this season. The news marks another injury blow to the Broncos on the injury front, and will leave the team’s secondary without a promising young playmaker.
SEPTEMBER 11: The Broncos’ secondary suffered a blow when safety Caden Sterns exited their Week 1 contest. It was initially feared that the third-year safety had encountered a serious injury, and further testing has confirmed that is indeed the case.
Sterns is dealing with a torn patellar tendon and is expected to miss the remainder of the season as a result, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The news marks a notable loss for Denver’s defense and an interruption to what appeared to be another season of signficant playing time for the former fifth-rounder. Sterns logged an 84% snap share last season, and he was poised to operate as a starter alongside Justin Simmons at the safety spot this year.
Those plans were halted when the 23-year-old was carted off the field during the Broncos’ loss to the Raiders. That signalled a major injury to his knee, though 9News’ Mike Klis reported after the game that the team believed Sterns’ ACL was intact. Even with that being the case, an indefinite absence will commence.
Sterns flashed potential as a rookie in 2021 with a pair of interceptions and five pass breakups. The Texas alum played well when inserted into the starting lineup in place of an injured Kareem Jackson last year, but a hip injury limited his campaign to just five games. Expectations were high heading into his return to the field, but Sterns now faces another lengthy recovery process.
In his absence, Denver will move forward with Simmons and Jackson (who re-signed in May on a low-cost deal) as first-teamers at the safety position. As the Broncos continue the beginning of the Sean Payton era on offense, the team’s defense will remain a unit counted on heavily to deliver success. Their ability to do so has been impacted by Sterns’ injury, though the Simmons-Jackson tandem has considerable experience, having played alongside each other since the 2019 season.