NFL

Three players out due to injury, more questionable with “illness” for Broncos

The Broncos were already going to be short-handed at outside linebacker Sunday against Tennessee. Now it appears there will be more attrition.

Head coach Nathaniel Hackett on Friday ruled Baron Browning (groin) out for the game against the Titans and said rookie Nik Bonitto is questionable due to illness. Neither was present during the open portion of Friday’s practice nor was practice squad member Jonathan Kongbo.

The only three players working at the position Friday: Jonathon Cooper, newly acquired Jacob Martin and practice squad newcomer Zach McCloud. Randy Gregory (knee) is on short-term injured reserve and Denver traded Bradley Chubb to Miami during its bye week.

In addition to Browning being ruled out, so, too, were wide receiver KJ Hamler and tight end Andrew Beck, both of whom suffered hamstring injuries during practice this week. The Broncos have had a rash of hamstring injuries this season.

“We’ve got really good people here and everybody’s doing everything we can to have these guys out there during practice and in the games and to be able to play at a high level,” Hackett said. “Those things, they happen. It’s part of the game. Some are early in practice, some are middle of practice. You never know when that’s going to happen.”

Safety Justin Simmons (knee) and tackle Cam Fleming (quad), meanwhile, both took part in practice for the second straight day and both are listed as questionable.

“We don’t want to get too many reps for (Fleming) during the week, but we want to make sure he’s able to test it and do what’s right,” Hackett said.

Bonitto is one of three players questionable due to illness, joining wide receiver Kendall Hinton and defensive back Darrius Phillips. None of the three were at practice or in the locker room afterward during the open periods for reporters.

Hackett wouldn’t say anything else about their status. He was asked if they had stomach virus, if the illness was COVID-related and if the players were isolating from the team and each time responded with some variation of, “It’s just an illness.”

Shorthanded Titans. Tennessee on Friday ruled out a couple of key players, including standout defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons and defensive end Bud Dupree. Simmons has been one of the most disruptive interior players in the NFL this year and Dupree had started six games this fall.

Starting safety Amani Hooker and starting outside linebacker Zach Cunningham are also out, while quarterback Ryan Tannehill (ankle) was limited Friday after being a full participant Thursday. Tannehill has missed Tennessee’s past two games. Rookie Malik Willis has started each of those games.

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