Playing the last four weeks without All-Pro safety Justin Simmons was no easy feat for the Broncos' defense, but Caden Sterns stepped up in the veteran's place.
While Sterns has played well at free safety throughout Simmons' time on injured reserve, the Denver Post’s Kyle Newman noted that the second-year safety was a superstar on Thursday night against the Colts. With two interceptions, three passes defensed and three combined tackles, Sterns helped keep the Broncos in the game.
"Sterns put an exclamation point on his performance during Simmons' absence with the first multi-interception game of his career in Thursday's overtime loss to the Colts," Newman wrote.
Newman noted that Sterns' two interceptions off Colts quarterback Matt Ryan matched his season total in 2021, when he picked off Jets quarterback Zach Wilson and Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott as a rookie. As the Broncos enter Week 6 of the 2022 season, Sterns is on pace to surge to new heights in Year 2.
Sterns credited his two interceptions to the secondary's communication in zone coverage. It was not an individual achievement, Sterns noted, but a group effort among the defense to force the turnovers.
"The first one, I just read [Ryan's] eyes and on the second one, it was the same thing," Sterns said after the game. "Both of them happened in zone coverage. So collectively, it was everybody doing their job in the secondary to allow me to get in position to make those picks."
With Simmons eligible to return from injured reserve in Week 6, Newman noted that Sterns could return to the dime back position. Regardless of where on the field he plays, the second-year safety has shown his ability to be an impactful player for the Broncos' defense.
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After his performance on Thursday, Sterns' teammates expressed their excitement for the young defensive back. Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, who dominated the Colts' backfield with 2.5 sacks, praised Sterns' growth in Year 2.
"Huge, it's huge," Chubb said after the game. "I preach to Caden all the time. … He stepped up to the challenge. It's fun to watch him play, watch him grow as a safety. Because when he first got here, he didn't like to hit. 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."