ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Justin Simmons, an iron-man safety and arguably the Denver Broncos' best defensive player of the past three or four years, has been placed on short-term injured reserve with a quad injury.
Simmons, who had played in 66 consecutive games since the start of the 2018 season, suffered a quad injury late in the Broncos' 17-16 loss Monday to Seattle. He will miss at least four games.
"It's my first time kind of hearing as well,'' Simmons' starting safety partner Kareem Jackson said Wednesday prior to practice. "It's hard to replace a guy like Justin Simmons and what he does for our defense and what he does in the locker room and for the team with his leadership.
"It's tough. I'm sure everyone in the community knows what type of guy he is on and off the field. For us, we pride ourselves on having the next guy available ready. And Caden Sterns has played a ton of ball in this league already in such a short time. I think he's very ready for the situation and the opportunity and I think he'll come in and play great."
Simmons, in the second year of a four-year contract extension that is paying him $15.1 million this year, finished the game against the Seahawks, tied linebacker Alex Singleton with a team-most 9 tackles, and played all 55 defensive snaps.
He has twice been a second-team All Pro and once a Pro Bowler in the past three years.
With Simmons down, Sterns, a second-year top backup, will move into the starting role alongside Jackson.
"With a guy like that going down you've got to make sure you're on your Ps and Qs,'' Sterns said.
The Broncos also signed veteran safety Anthony Harris to their practice squad and promoted cornerback Essang Bassey from their practice squad to 53-man roster. Bassey played some safety during the preseason.
Harris, 30, was an undrafted rookie signed by Vikings' assistant general manager George Paton in 2015. He became a full-time starter in 2019 when he led the NFL with 6 interceptions. Harris then started all 16 games for Minnesota in 2020, then moved on to Philadelphia where he started 14 games last year.
He was among the Eagles' final cuts two weeks ago, then asked for his release from their practice squad a week ago. Given Harris has been playing through training camp and the preseason, it would not be unreasonable for the Broncos to consider calling him up their 53-man roster in time for next week's home game against the San Francisco 49ers..
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