Broncos without Freeman, Stewart and Shane Ray today vs. Chiefs

Shane Ray. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports.
Shane Ray. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports.

We already knew the Denver Broncos would be without three key players, and now, that number grows with the addition of Shane Ray.

When the Broncos face the AFC West leading Chiefs in Kansas City (kickoff at 11 a.m. MT), they’ll be without safety Darian Stewart, running back Royce Freeman, outside linebacker Shane Ray, starting right tackle Jared Veldheer, and wideout DaeSean Hamilton among others.

A full list here:

Stewart (neck stinger) is a huge blow, considering he’s a full-time starter on the back end of Denver’s defense, who’s allowed many massive plays this season. Without him, Will Parks will get a lion’s share of the snaps, though Shamarko Thomas may see some action as well.

And now Ray, who continues to deal with that wrist, is listed as out, too. That means likely more snaps for Shaquil Barrett, who’s played better than Ray this year, anyway.

Offensively, losing Royce Freeman (ankle) is a big blow. The bruising, rookie running back has averaged a strong 4.4 yards per carry this year. That means fellow rookie Phillip Lindsay will likely see more carries this week, depending on how imbalanced the Broncos offensive attack ends up being. They’ve been heavily tilted towards the pass in nearly every game, though, that has been partly dictated by trailing a great deal.

And Veldheer (knee) will miss his third straight game, leaving Billy Turner in as the starting right tackle. Keep an eye on that bruised and battered offensive line; starting left guard Ronald Leary tore his Achilles tendon two weeks ago, too.

Even at full strength, the Broncos were facing an uphill battle today against the Chiefs, who are currently 6-1. Now, it may take a miracle to win, with this many key players sidelined.

A look at the Chiefs inactives:

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