No INT for Broncos’ Caden Sterns, but he’s earned trust (and a pair of Jordans)


Caden Sterns has a pair of Jordans coming his way, compliments of teammate D.J. Jones.

The shoes, mind you, aren’t because of anything the second-year safety did, but rather for something he should have done.

On San Francisco’s first third-down try Sunday night, Sterns had quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo picked off cleanly. He robbed the middle of the field, broke on an in-route to tight end George Kittle and had visions of a pick-six running through his mind.

“It was really clean. My eyes were really big. I knew it was just coming,” Sterns said this week. “… It was a great call and I was able to read (Garoppolo’s) eyes, which is something I do pretty well.”

Except Jones batted the ball down at the line of scrimmage.

“He came and apologized, told me he was going to get me some Jordans,” Sterns said. “I’m going to hold him to that.”

The pair of shoes Sterns has been filling the past two games — those of standout Justin Simmons, who is on the short-term injured reserve list with a quadriceps injury — are large. Simmons, the seventh-year pro, has earned second-team All-Pro honors two of the past three seasons.

The past two weeks, Sterns has filled in ably.

“I’m just trying to make the most of it,” Sterns said. “I’ve been wanting to make plays, show my abilities and also take it as a learning experience. There’s some things that go well and there’s some things that, you know, you make mistakes on. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve had some mistakes, but all correctable.

“Just really having fun, playing collectively as a whole and counting on one another to have a performance that we did on Sunday.”

Sterns played in 15 games as a rookie last year, starting twice and logging a pair of interceptions and a pair of sacks to go along with 28 tackles. This fall, he’s one of several role players who have already stepped in to an elevated role and helped the Broncos defense to its strong start.

In fact, through three games, Denver’s defense has thrived despite the fact that difference-makers have missed time at each of the three levels. Simmons will miss at least four weeks (Hackett expressed confidence Simmons will return in time for Denver’s Oct. 18 game at the Chargers), and cornerback Pat Surtain II missed more than half of Sept. 18’s win against Houston. Rookie Damarri Mathis should have given up a touchdown on a drop by Texans receiver Brandin Cooks, but caught a break, then broke up the next pass and played steadily overall.


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