Broncos’ Justin Simmons headed to injured reserve; Caden Sterns to start at safety

The Broncos’ Ironman is out. And Caden Sterns is up.

Justin Simmons suffered a quad injury in the Broncos’ Week 1 loss in Seattle and is expected to be put on injured reserve, according to a league source, where he’ll miss a minimum of four games. That means Sterns, a second-year pro, will take over at free safety for Simmons, who has started 66 consecutive games for the Broncos.

“Like I’ve said before, my job is to make sure there’s no fall off behind Simmons,” Sterns said. “Communication, my play, my physicality — just making sure I do my part. We have some exceptional safeties now in Simmons and K-Jax, but I feel comfortable back there. I’m going to do the same thing as I did last year in that spot, just go in there, hold my own and make plays.”

Sterns, the team’s dime back in defensive sub-packages, is the team’s primary backup safety behind both Simmons and Jackson. With Sterns taking over for Simmons on Sunday against the Texans at Empower Field, P.J. Locke will play the dime.

Head coach Nathaniel Hackett said Simmons’ injury occurred late in the second half on Monday at Lumen Field.

“It’s hard to replace a guy like Justin Simmons, what he does for our defense and what he does for our team in the locker room with his leadership,” Kareem Jackson said. “It’s tough. Everybody in the community knows what type of guy he is.”

In response to Simmons’ injury, the Broncos signed veteran safety Anthony Harris to the practice squad. Harris, 30, is a seventh-year pro who spent six seasons in Minnesota when Broncos GM George Paton worked in the Vikings’ front office.

This story will be updated.

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