While many people were enjoying Thanksgiving Day meals with their family and loved ones, the Denver Broncos were on the practice field ahead of Sunday’s AFC showdown with the Cleveland Browns. What were the key observations during practice and what was the injury report like following Thursday’s practice?

Denver Broncos Thursday prep includes preheating the oven for Cleveland Browns matchup

The Denver Broncos’ offense will have their hands full on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns’ defense led by Myles Garrett. Garrett and the Browns defense have been wreaking havoc on opposing offenses all season long, and Sunday’s game could be the Broncos’ biggest test yet.

Coming into Sunday’s matchup, the Browns boast one of the NFL’s top defenses. Cleveland has the NFL’s best overall defense in terms of net yards per game allowed (243.3 yards per game), 2nd in yards per play (4.51), 6th in points per game allowed (18.0), 6th in sacks (33), and the NFL’s top-ranked third-down defense (25.4%) conversions allowed.

The Broncos offense has been efficient in spurts, but they’ll have to preheat the oven in order to come out to a hot start against the Browns’ pass rush and athletic secondary.

Denver’s offense ranks 23rd in total net yards per game (301.2), but they’re solid in several crucial areas, including yards per play (13th), points per game (15th), giveaways (13th), and third-down conversion percentage (18th).

Russell Wilson is playing clean and efficient football, with a 19-4 TD: INT ratio and a passer rating of 104.3. He’s helping Denver win games, but the offense will face their stiffest challenge yet against the Browns, Garrett, and former Broncos defensive lineman Shelby Harris.

They’ll have to find a way to get the run game going against this defensive front, after the team struggled running the ball last week against the Minnesota Vikings.

Can Broncos defense fluster young Dorian Thompson-Robinson?

Coming into Sunday’s game, the Browns offense boasts one of the NFL’s top rushing attacks, averaging nearly 143 yards per game on the ground. Despite the loss of Nick Chubb earlier in the season, they’ve relied on Kareem Hunt and Jerome Ford to help mitigate Chubb’s absence.

This is a crucial key for Denver’s defense this week because they’ve struggled to stop the run for the past two weeks, allowing 175 yards on the ground to the Vikings and 192 yards on the ground against the Buffalo Bills.

If the Broncos can find a way to limit the ground game success of the Browns offense, they’ll have a chance to put the ball into rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s hands, giving them a better chance to create more takeaway opportunities.

The Browns offensive line has been banged up this season, with key offensive tackles Jedrick Wills and Jack Conklin on injured reserve. Baron Browning, Jonathon Cooper, and the Broncos’ pass rush are in prime position to generate pressure on the Browns rookie quarterback.

If Denver can accelerate the clock on Thompson-Robinson, it has the possibility to lead to more takeaways by the Broncos defense.

Thursday’s Injury Report and Practice Status

Following Thursday’s practice, the Broncos released their official status and injury updates ahead of Sunday’s game. After missing yesterday’s practice, Broncos safety P.J. Locke was back at practice today for team stretch and participated in individual drills.

Full Participants:

  • Outside linebacker Nik Bonitto (shoulder).
  • Outside linebacker Baron Browning (wrist).
  • Inside linebacker Josey Jewell (back).
  • Running back Samaje Perine (knee).
  • Defensive tackle Mike Purcell (elbow).

Limited Participants:

  • Safety P.J. Locke (ankle).
  • Defensive tackle D.J. Jones (knee).

The Denver Broncos will have one final practice on Friday ahead of Sunday’s game against the Browns.