By Troy Renck
ENGLEWOOD – Caden Sterns blossomed in training camp, showing potential in his third season to start at strong safety. The only thing that has held him back during his career is the ability to stay healthy.
That explains why he was so emotional on Sunday when he exited the field on a cart after throwing his helmet in disgust. An MRI confirmed that the former Texas standout tore the patellar tendon in his left knee, likely ending his season, according to an NFL Network report.
“We will update you at the right time. I am not going to be early with injury updates,” coach Sean Payton said on Monday.
Sterns suffered the injury on the Raiders second drive in the 17-16 loss. Sterns executed a run blitz, bursting through the line to tackle Josh Jacobs. His left leg whip slightly on the play, but nothing out of the ordinary. Sterns went down to the ground, clutching his knee. Teammates offered support, but the scene spoke before the medical exam as Sterns threw his helmet into the air, obviously knowing something was wrong. It was only his second snap of the game.
Sterns, 23, has proven a playmaker in limited reps. He boasts four career interceptions and had emerged into a bigger role this season, working alongside fellow strong safety Kareem Jackson and free safety Justin Simmons. The pain those two felt after the game for Sterns was real, recognizing that he was likely to miss significant time.
It is a tough break for Sterns who appeared in only five games last season before undergoing season-ending hip surgery.
The Broncos safety depth will be tested. P.JLocke began the season on the injured reserve with an ankle issue and is not eligible to return until week 5. Rookie JL Skinner could be next man up. The draft pick out of Boise State made the team, but was inactive for the season opener.
Tight end Greg Dulcich suffered a right hamstring injury on the last drive of the second quarter and did not return. He was undergoing an exam Monday, and is likely going to miss time. Multiple hamstring issues cost him seven games during his rookie season a year ago.