CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The forecast calls for running the ball.
For the Broncos’ three running backs, the hope is they can bring their 2019 form to what should be a soggy Bank of America Stadium.
Following injuries to Javonte Williams and Mike Boone, and the release of Melvin Gordon III, the Broncos now have three ball carriers who weren’t on their 53-man roster through the first four weeks of the regular season. Latavius Murray, the lead back, was signed off the Saints’ practice squad prior to week 5. Marlon Mack was signed off the 49ers’ practice squad prior to the week 8 trip to Jacksonville.
And Devine Ozigbo had been on the Broncos’ practice squad all season until he was promoted to the 53-man roster Saturday in time for the game Sunday afternoon at soggy Carolina.
It’s supposed to rain overnight here with the precipitation scheduled to stop around noon EST, or about an hour prior to kickoff.
Those three backs had good seasons in 2019. Murray rushed for 637 yards and five touchdowns for the Saints while also catching 34 passes for another 235 yards and a touchdown. He’s been consistent throughout his career with 266 yards rushing and seven games remaining he’s on his way to his ninth straight season of at least 400 yards and eighth straight of at least 500.
Mack rushed for 1,091 yards for the Colts in 2019. He blew out his Achilles early in the season opener of 2020 and is still fighting his way back.
Ozigbo was a premium college free agent out of Nebraska in 2019 and after Jacksonville claimed him off waivers, he had 27 yards off 9 carries as a rookie, plus an additional three catches for 24 yards. He’s been primarily on the practice squad (PS) but he’ll get his chance Sunday. Ozigbo was elevated from the PS for the Colts’ game in week 5 but only had one carry for 2 yards.
Carolina ranks 26th in rushing defense, allowing 137.0 yards per game, so the Broncos’ newly arranged running back rotation will have a chance to produce.
Sutton, Simmons, Adams fined
Two of the Broncos’ top players, Courtland Sutton and Justin Simmons, were each fined $15,914 for infractions committed last week against the Raiders. Sutton, the Broncos’ leading receiver, was dinged for an illegal blind side block. Simmons wasn’t penalized for a late hit on Raiders’ receiver Davante Adams but disciplinarians must have caught him on tape.
Adams chewed out the back judge for missing the call and was not only penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct but fined $29,785.
Johnson, Hicks elevated
The Broncos made two other roster moves Saturday, elevating rookies Brandon Johnson and Faion Hicks from their practice squad. Johnson was elevated last week for the Raiders’ game and recorded his first NFL catch. Hicks, a 7th-round draft pick out of Wisconsin, is getting the call-up for the first time this year.
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