Denver Broncos OTA standout no. 3: Caden Sterns, Safety
After two injury-riddled seasons to open his NFL career, Broncos fans are undoubtedly ready for a year three breakout from former fifth-round pick Caden Sterns. Sterns, who tested off the charts athletically during the pre-draft process in 2021, has made a lot of plays in his first two NFL seasons despite only being a part-time player or being injured. He's shown his range, his ball skills, and his overall instincts out there.
He's shown why he was once considered a five-star prospect coming out of high school, no doubt. Sterns has made an early impression for the Broncos at OTAs and head coach Sean Payton commented on whether or not he's ready to take the "next step":
"“Look, the next step is that cliche term. I hope all of them take the next step because last year’s steps were not good enough. I think that he’s smart, and that’s a good trait to have at his position. He [also] has instincts. That was a heck of a play down the field and staying on top. For him staying healthy and then taking a little bit of this momentum—confidence is born really out of demonstrated ability. You can hope for confidence, or say, ‘I’m going to be confident,’ but it’s only born from demonstrated ability. Plays like that—you guys have all seen a preseason game where someone excels and then all of a sudden, you have a different player. You can point to a certain moment. He’s one of those type of players.”"- Sean Payton (via Broncos PR)
Player stumbling at Broncos OTAs no. 2: Baron Browning, EDGE
Third-year pass rusher Baron Browning was absent for the entirety of OTAs, and he will miss mandatory minicamp. We now know that Browning was absent due to a knee injury which required arthroscopic surgery. That knee injury will likely keep Browning out of training camp and potentially into the start of the regular season.
The Denver Broncos need Browning fully healthy. His progression last year in his first year as a full-time EDGE player was part of the reason why the team felt like they could trade Bradley Chubb for a first-round pick (and more). Browning showed exciting progression in his second NFL season, and proved he belongs at EDGE, but missing the offseason program with a knee injury is brutal news for Browning.
It's the last thing he needed, and it's a huge reason why the Broncos felt like they needed to sign Frank Clark. Browning's health won't necessarily make or break the season for the team, but it's certainly a huge hit to the excitement for the defense. Browning is one of the team's most gifted young players, so for him to continue struggling with injuries is really unfortunate.
Hopefully, he's able to get back sooner rather than later and get back to terrorizing the quarterback.