The Denver Broncos wide receiving corp has been banged up periodically throughout the season. On Sunday, the Broncos will be without two of their key playmakers against the Carolina Panthers.

Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler ruled out

For the second consecutive week, the Denver Broncos will be without Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler as they face the Carolina Panthers in an early Sunday morning showdown. Jeudy hasn’t played since suffering a brutal ankle injury on the first play against the Tennessee Titans two weeks ago.

“Those guys are both very talented players,” Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett said of Jeudy and Hamler. “We want them out there when we can get them healthy and get them out there for that. But we have the guys that are ready to go and ready to rock, so we want to be sure that we’re able to attack with those guys as well.”

Last week the Broncos elevated undrafted rookie free agent Brandon Johnson to the active roster for their game against the Las Vegas Raiders. Johnson saw action alongside Courtland Sutton, fellow undrafted rookie free agent Jalen Virgil, and former undrafted rookie free agent receiver Kendall Hinton.

“I give him so much credit, [WR] Brandon [Johnson],” Hackett said on Friday. “Like we talked about earlier, he was out for four weeks due to his injury. He was doing a great job; we all saw it in training camp. He earned his way up to get reps with ones, at times. Then he had the opportunity to come back here and was in great shape. For a young guy, that’s always a great thing to see. He was able to stay with the offense, so he didn’t have to relearn anything. We were able to implement him in right away.”

Sunday’s contest on the road against the Panthers appears to present a similar situation for Denver at the receiver position.

The first game in the post-Melvin Gordon era for Denver Broncos

Sunday’s game against the Panthers will also be the Broncos’ first game without Melvin Gordon on the roster after the team waived him on Monday following the team’s overtime loss to the Raiders.

Latavius Murray will shoulder a lot of the workload against Carolina’s aggressive defense. Still, Marlon Mack and Devine Ozigbo are two players who are expected to contribute and receive some carries on Sunday.

“He’s going to have to go in there and he’s going to have to take advantage of this opportunity,” Hackett said of Mack. “I’m excited to see him. He has a little extra burst and he’s been in a system like this coming from the 49ers. Watching some of the stuff he did in Indianapolis, I think it will carry over.”

The Broncos’ offense is hopeful Mack can generate some rhythm for them in the ground game, but Denver’s offense overall has to be more consistent which has been a difficult task for them all season long.

How the Broncos can win on Sunday

Every week, Mile High Sports’ keys to victory have been pretty simple. The offense must produce more than 16 points if they have any chance of winning. Unfortunately, Denver has struggled week in and week out to accomplish just that.

Plagued by bouts of inconsistency and third-down woes, the Broncos offense hasn’t produced enough to provide Broncos Country with any hope that they’ll piece things together, especially 12 weeks into the NFL season. A balanced run game and a continued emphasis on a quick passing attack could help Denver’s offense find their footing at least somewhat.

If the Broncos’ offense can score more than 16 points on Sunday that will help, but the Denver defense is looking to bounce back in a big way after surrendering several big plays in their overtime loss to the Raiders. Patrick Surtain will look to respond as he’s set to cover Panthers wideout D.J. Moore.

Denver’s defensive line led by Dre’Mont Jones on the interior and Baron Browning on the outside will have to generate pressure on Sam Darnold after Denver only registered one sack on Derek Carr last week.

The Broncos schedule doesn’t get any easier down the stretch as they look to finish strong despite a disappointing season.

Cody Roark is Mile High Sports lead reporter covering the Denver Broncos — Cody covers every practice, every home and away game plus community events related to the organization. He also co-hosts The Afternoon Drive with Aniello Piro on Mile High Sports Radio and is the host of the Locked On Broncos podcast. You can follow Cody on Twitter and Instagram @CodyRoarkNFL.