Will Cleveland Browns injuries play bigger role than expected vs. Broncos?

CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 22: Safety Eric Murray #22 of the Cleveland Browns enters the field to take on the Los Angeles Rams in the game at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 22: Safety Eric Murray #22 of the Cleveland Browns enters the field to take on the Los Angeles Rams in the game at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns have already declared three players out against the Denver Broncos, and the injuries could play a bigger role than expected.

The Cleveland Browns will travel to Denver for their Week 9 game against the Broncos and it seems like they are in a solid position to end their three-game losing streak.

With the Broncos starting their backup quarterback Brandon Allen, playing in his first NFL regular season game, the Browns have a good opportunity to leave Denver with a victory. However, injuries could also negatively affect the Browns as well.

The Browns have already declared safeties Damarious Randall and Eric Murray, as well as tight Pharaoh Brown out of Sunday’s game. Randall will be missing his second straight game, while Murray and Brown are missing their first games due to injury.

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Although the Browns have been without Randall for a chunk of the season already due to an injury and Murray and Brown are role players, their absences could loom large against the Broncos, especially Brown and Murray.

Brown has proven to be an effective run blocking tight end for the Browns. Over the past four games, Brown has played at least 32 percent of Cleveland’s offensive snaps, including a season high 47.8 percent against the Baltimore Ravens.

The key to Cleveland’s offense this season has been running the football with Nick Chubb. Chubb has been the Browns’ best offensive weapon, and solid blocking up front has helped the running back spring some big runs. Brown is clearly Cleveland’s best blocking tight end, and Demetrius Harris and Ricky Seals-Jones do not provide the same blocking ability as Brown.

With the Browns trying to get their offense turned around, losing Brown as a blocking tight end will not help them against the Broncos. The Browns have had plenty of success using zone runs this season, and losing a blocking tight end like Brown will make it more difficult for the Browns to use their outside zone scheme.

On the other side of the ball, the Browns will be without two of their safeties, including their starting free safety. However, Randall has struggled when he has been on the field in 2019 and has not provided the same impact as he did last season. In four games this season, Randall has made 20 total tackles, two tackles for loss, two sacks, and three passes defensed.

Although he has been making plays closer to the line of scrimmage, he has not shown the same ability as a ball hawk safety in the deep middle third of the field. He has not been as effective knocking balls away, which is where he excelled last season. His replacements have also played surprisingly well when he has missed time. So even though Randall will be out for his fourth game of the season, Cleveland’s defense has managed well without him.

On the other hand, Cleveland losing Murray could be a bigger loss for the Browns. Murray has been one of the biggest surprises for the Browns this season, providing a steady impact as Cleveland’s slot corner and extra defensive back.

Playing in several positions this season, Murray has made 22 total tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, and one pass defensed. Although his numbers are similar to Randall’s, he provides versatility and has made plays all over the field. He has also played well in coverage while playing in the slot.

Without Randall, the Browns have used a safety combination of Morgan Burnett, Juston Burris, and Jermaine Whitehead. They may not be the playmakers Randall has shown he can be, but they have played well when they are on the field.

T.J. Carrie will likely replace Murray as Cleveland’s fifth defensive back. When he was the starting cornerback, Carrie held up well in coverage while also providing good run support. Moving back into the slot should suit Carrie better and he can provide similar versatility as Murray.

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The Browns need to leave Denver with a win on Sunday as they try to turn their season. Both teams will be dealing with a variety of injuries, and Cleveland’s injuries may not be to their star players, but will likely have a larger impact than initially anticipated.