The Baltimore Ravens earlier this year had to play a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers without, among a number of other players, their top two running backs at the time—though the primary running back they did have had some previous starting experience. The Denver Broncos, of course, played a game without a true quarterback.
Now, also because of the Covid-19 protocols, the Cleveland Browns will be playing today’s game on the road against the New York Jets without almost all of the wide receivers that they had on their 53-man roster less than 24 hours agov, all but one being placed on the Reserve/Covid-19 List as high-risk close contacts after linebacker B.J. Goodson tested positive.
In total, the wide receivers placed on the reserve list are as follows: Jarvis Landry; Rashard Higgins; Donovan Peoples-Jones; and KhaDarel Hodge. Odell Beckham, of course, has long been on the Reserve/Injured List after suffering a season-ending injury.
The only wide receiver who was on the 53-man roster prior to this that was not deemed a high-risk close contact and placed on reserve is Marvin Hall, who was claimed off waivers from the Detroit Lions earlier this month.
Hall has yet to play a game for the Browns, but he will be their top receiver today. In 11 games with the Lions, he caught 17 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns. Over a four-year career, he has 36 receptions for 760 yards and five touchdowns. He has a propensity for hitting the big play—when he gets any plays at all.
Cleveland activated two wide receivers from their practice squad as Covid-19 replacements in Ja’Marcus Bradley and Derrick Willies. Bradley is a rookie college free agent out of Louisiana-Lafayette, the same school as Kevin Dotson. He was elevated from the practice squad twice in recent weeks, seeing 15 total offensive snaps, but did not receive a passing target.
Willies was originally undrafted out of Texas Tech in 2018. All of his NFL experience has come within the Browns organization, even though his employment has been inconsistent. He previously only spent time on the 53-man roster in 2018, his rookie year, playing 30 snaps and catching three passes for 61 yards.
That is the entirely of Cleveland’s receiving corps today. Of course, they still have a pair of talented tight ends and arguably the best running back tandem in the NFL, with one of the top offensive lines and a quarterback capable of playing at a high level. And they’re playing against the Jets. But this certainly makes the game a bit more interesting, at least.