BRONCOS

Clayton: Broncos-Browns looks like it could be a battle of attrition

Oct 19, 2021, 5:10 PM | Updated: Oct 20, 2021, 6:53 am
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 3: quarterback Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns walks off the field ...
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

The Broncos got a big break on Tuesday. When the Cleveland Browns released their injury report prior to the two teams facing off on Thursday night, it offered a ray of hope for Denver.

The Browns aren’t going to play running back Nick Chubb because of a calf injury. Teammate Kareem Hunt went on the injured reserve list. Neither half of the dynamic rushing attack will play against the Broncos.

Baker Mayfield is going to play with a left shoulder that pains him. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. didn’t practice the past two days because of a shoulder injury.

But it’s not just the skill-position players who are ailing. Cleveland is banged up in the trenches too.

Tackle Jack Conklin may miss the game with a knee injury. Center J.C. Tretter hasn’t practice for two days because of a knee injury.

In a short week with a Thursday night game, that’s not good. The Browns had 20 players on their injury list Monday, 19 on Tuesday.

Of course, the Broncos have their own problems. They have outside linebacker Bradley Chubb on the injured reserve list. Inside linebacker Josey Jewell is out for the season. On Sunday, they lost inside linebacker Alexander Johnson for the season with a torn pec.

Their linebacker woes don’t end there. It’s doubtful inside linebacker Baron Browning is going to play because he has a concussion and it’s in a short week. Outside linebacker Andre Mintz is out with a hamstring.

The big matchup in this game was going to be the Browns running game against the Broncos depleted linebacker corp and now the Browns are down to their third-string running back. The running game was why the Browns were a playoff team last year and Kevin Stefanski won Coach of the Year honors with what he did with the running back. He created the best two-back duo with Chubb and Hunt. That took the pressure off Mayfield and let him grow as the season continue.

Mayfield finished the season strong. Now, he’s got to go out there and do the best he can with a bad left shoulder.

The Broncos have to do the best they can filling holes in a depleted linebacking corps. This should be an interesting matchup.

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