By Zack Kelberman
(247 SPORTS) – The Denver Broncos already faced an unenviable, uphill battle slowing down Patrick Mahomes at full strength at at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on Monday.
Now, at much less than 100 percent, the task got that much tougher.
The Broncos released their list of inactives for the game against the Kansas City Chiefs, a list that includes cornerback Tramaine Brock, who’s dealing with a bothersome thigh injury. His deactivation was wholly expected; Brock missed practice Wednesday and Thursday and was limited on Friday. He was listed as doubtful on the official injury report. Working in Brock’s stead will be oft-picked-on rookie CB Isaac Yiadom.
Safety Shamarko Thomas was also scratched for the affair, joining quarterback Kevin Hogan, inside linebacker Alexander Johnson, defensive end DeMarcus Walker, offensive tackle Elijah Wilkinson and guard Sam Jones.
In more fortunate news, nickel corner Adam Jones, who sat out Week 3 with a thigh issue. So, too, is safety Dymonte Thomas, who was hampered by an abdominal issue. The entire unit previously known as the No Fly Zone will hope to contain Kansas City’s game-breaking weaponry, such as speedster wide receiver Tyreek Hill and All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce.
The latter opponent is particularly concerning for a Denver defense that’s proven incapable of guarding, let alone defending, tight ends.
“[He’s] a huge problem,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said last week. “Week 1 he had like one catch. I think Weeks 2 and 3 he had over 100 yards. He’s obviously an issue in the red zone and on third downs for us. He’s a matchup problem. He’s too fast for most backers and he’s too big for most safeties. We have a plan to obviously contain him and keep his production to a minimum.”
Hill, whose raw speed is unrivaled in the NFL, is equally challenging. The Broncos will stick Chris Harris Jr. on him, likely with a safety over the top. But the Chiefs’ league-best offense doesn’t flow through one guy — it’s a well-oiled machine led by Mahomes.
Under Mahomes’ helm, Kansas City’s operation is flourishing. They’re tops in the league with 39.3 points per game and a 91.7 percent red zone touchdown percentage. Mahomes has a sparkling 133.7 QB rating on first down and 146.8 inside the pocket, per ESPN Stats and Information. The Chiefs are ninth-best in total yards per game (398.3) and passing (295.0).
“It’s not just Patrick Mahomes, it’s their whole entire offense,” Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said Thursday. “[Chiefs Head Coach] Andy Reid, he’s one of the best offensive coordinators in the league. What they do, they’ve implemented a huge college system of RPOs and a whole bunch of spread looks. They’ve got [WR] Tyreek Hill running around jet motions almost every play. It’s their whole team and they do a lot of stuff, so we’ve got to be ready for everything.”
Kickoff from Broncos Stadium at Mile High is set for 6:15 p.m. MT.