Browns notes: CB Denzel Ward ruled out Saturday night vs. Broncos

TJ Carrie believes Phillip Lindsay key to Broncos offense

Daryl Ruiter
December 13, 2018 - 2:47 pm

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) Rookie cornerback Denzel Ward has been ruled out for Saturday night’s game at Denver the team said Thursday.

Ward will miss his second straight game due to a concussion suffered Dec. 2 in a 29-13 loss at Houston.

T.J. Carrie is expected to start once again in Ward’s place.

While Carrie will be responsible for keeping Denver’s receivers in check, he believes the secret to success Saturday will be stopping Broncos rookie running back Phillip Lindsay.

“It’s everything [because] I think their offense relies heavily on him,” Carrie said. “That’s not to say they’re not talented elsewhere, but when you have a good running back and a good run game, that opens up so many other things – the play action, the pass, the boot – all of those things are determined off of the run game.

“They’ve been excellent and excelled giving him the ball in different positions and creating separation from the linebackers and the front four and really allow him to work out in space so that’s definitely going to be a big key to the game.”

Lindsay has six rushing touchdowns in his last four games and has totaled 100 scrimmage yards in three of the last four games. He is the only undrafted player in the common draft era to total 1,000 scrimmage yards and 10+ scrimmage touchdowns.

Ward, who was named the Pepsi Rookie of the Week twice and AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, has contributed to forcing five turnovers this season including three interceptions, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries in addition to 11 pass breakups this season.

The air up there – To help get acclimated to the altitude in Denver, the Browns flew out Thursday afternoon following practice in Berea.

“That altitude is a real thing,” Carrie said. “That’s one thing they use because they know teams that don’t play well in the altitude, so they like to do a lot of things within the first half to take advantage.”

Williams plans to have the Browns work out on Friday at Mile High prior to Saturday night’s game.

“We will practice. We will go out to the stadium,” Williams said. “We will do that, yes, and that is another one of our acclimation factors when we do that.”

Another shutout bid – After keeping the Texans’ trio of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus off Baker Mayfield two weeks ago in Houston and not allowing a sack, the offensive line hopes to pitch another shutout Saturday night against the Broncos’ dynamic duo of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, who have combined for 25.5 sacks this season.

One of the primary linemen tasked with keeping Mayfield upright is right tackle Chris Hubbard.

“These guys that we’re facing are fast, man,” Hubbard said.

Miller, who looks for a sack in his sixth consecutive game, is second in the NFL with 13.5 sacks this season while Chubb broke Miller’s franchise rookie sack record and has 12 this year.

“Bradley Chubb, he comes off. He has a really good bull rush, and he can lull you to sleep as well with his pass-rush moves,” Hubbard said. “Von Miller, he’s a crafty guy. He’s one of those guys that you can’t go to sleep on. He’s one of those guys that plays the game at a high level, and he’s quick. He comes off the ball pretty fast, and he reacts off of what you do. So you’ve got to be careful with what you do as far as blocking him.”

Inside the numbers – While the Browns’ defense ranks near the bottom in several statistical categories, Williams urged people to look deeper – like he has.

Cleveland is tied for 24th in points allowed (25.5 points per game), 31st in yards allowed (411.2), 28th against the run (133.3) and 31st against the pass (277.9) but Williams pointed out this week that the Browns rank 10th in DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) and they have played the second-toughest offensive schedule in the league this season.

“It is probably the most accurate defensively or any analytic statistic for offense, defense and special teams because it takes in everything – time on the clock, plays per yard, first down situations, second down situations, third down, red zone, two-minute, takeaways and it all booms into one,” Williams said. “You will see that defensively, we have played the second-toughest schedule to date right now on the offenses that we have played and how well we have ranked up in there. We have to continue to fight, struggle and do what we can do.”

Roster moves – Tight end/fullback Orson Charles was placed on injured reserve Thursday.

Linebacker Xavier Woodson-Luster was elevated from the practice squad to take Charles’ roster spot.

Injury report – OUT: CB Denzel Ward (concussion), OL Austin Corbett (foot)

Questionable: C JC Tretter (ankle), DT Larry Ogunjobi (bicep), DB Phillip Gaines (knee)

Expected to play: CB Justin Burris (shoulder), LB Jamie Collins (shoulder), CB Terrance Mitchell (wrist), TE David Njoku (knee), LB Joe Schobert (knee), DB Tavierre Thomas (abdomen), DL Brian Price (Achilles)