The final Week 15 injury report was released Thursday and, all things considered, it could be worse for the Broncos.
Head coach Vance Joseph ruled out cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. (fibula) and Isaac Yiadom (shoulder) and outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (hip) for Saturday’s primetime showdown with the Cleveland Browns.
None of these scratches are surprising. Harris, whose fractured fibula is still healing, hopes to return for the season finale. Yiadom suffered a right shoulder separation in Week 14 and was considered doubtful from the get-go. Barrett is in the second of a 2-4 week recovery window for his hip flexor tear.
Helping offset the loss of Harris and Yiadom is Tramaine Brock, who’s set to play after missing two games due to a rib injury. Joseph remarked Wednesday that Brock “looked great” and, combined with newcomer Jamar Taylor, the team’s adding a little veteran seasoning to its otherwise young secondary, starting with No. 1-in-title Bradley Roby.
“We hope so,” Joseph said. “Brock’s back, so if he’s back we’ll have [CB Bradley] Roby and Brock, and Jamar would be the third.”
Looking to harass Mayfield in Barrett’s place will be OLB Shane Ray. As always, it’s possible Denver activates defensive end DeMarcus Walker and OLB Jeff Holland for additional pass-rushing horsepower, or, more likely, leans on Von Miller and Bradley Chubb instead.
In better news, DE Derek Wolfe cleared concussion protocol and is officially questionable to suit up. Barring a stunning setback, he’ll take his usual starting spot.
So, too, will wide receiver Courtland Sutton, whose quad injury caused the team to hold its collective breath earlier this week. He’s responded nicely to treatment and participated in Friday’s session. He wasn’t listed on the injury report.
“ … That’s half the battle,” Joseph said Wednesday. “You have to want to get better and we’ve got three or four guys that are pushing this week to play. That’s a good sign for our football team. Late in the year, everyone’s sore and no one’s totally healthy this time of the year. You have to want to get back to the field, absolutely.”
Inside linebacker Brandon Marshall (knee) also wasn’t listed on the injury report and will play for the first time since Week 8. His bone bruise has sufficiently healed to the point where he’ll see time on a pitch count, spelling rookie Josey Jewell.
“He’ll have some rust but he’s been moving around in practice this week,” defensive coordinator Joe Woods said Wednesday. “We’ll probably play him in a limited role. He’s been playing really in our sub package a lot, so we’ll probably moving forward look at it that way. That way he’s not out there 40 or 50 snaps.”
Denver will release its list of inactives 90 minutes prior to the 6:20 p.m. MT kickoff from Broncos Stadium at Mile High.