ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Another day, another sack to the Broncos’ passing game.

After Courtland Sutton suffering a hamstring injury in the 10-9 loss to the Ravens on Sunday, Nathaniel Hackett delivered positive news on Monday, stating the veteran received avoided a major injury and was day-to-day.

However, that good news quickly faded away less than 48 hours later when the team began preparing for the Kansas City Chiefs.

“It’s not looking good for this week for him,” Hackett said on Wednesday, when asked about Sutton’s availability for Sunday’s game against the Chiefs. “The hamstrings they are so finicky for each individual guy, I would expect us to be safe with that one because we don’t want to have a setback or something like that.”

That means Denver will likely be without two of their starting three receivers on Sunday with Tim Patrick on season-ending IR.

Without Sutton or Patrick, the Broncos won’t just be going with a majority of younger receivers, they’ll be playing significantly smaller receivers as well. At 6-foot-2, Brandon Johnson will be Denver’s biggest target if Sutton can’t play. Every other receiver on the active roster is 6-foot-1 or shorter.

However, the Broncos do have 6-foot-5, 258-pound tight end Albert Okwuegbunam just sitting on the active roster. Although listed as a tight end, Albert O. has provided the most value in the NFL as a receiving option.

On Wednesday, Hackett stated he is considering using Okwuegbunam to help Russell Wilson and the passing game.

“You even see last week, we utilized [Greg] Dulcich in some of those wide receiver roles and so I think that getting Albert up is going to potentially help us. It’s all hands on deck,” Hackett said. “We got to get everybody out there to see what they can do and find the matchups that we can and get that rhythm however we can.”

In Week 1, Albert O. played in 67 percent of Denver’s offensive plays, hauling in five catches for 33 yards. After an offseason of building chemistry with Wilson, it appeared Okwuegbunam was going to be a featured part of the Broncos’ offense.

That did not happen.

In the following four weeks, the former fourth-round pick failed to play more than 40 snaps in a game and totaled two catches for only 17 yards.

Since, he hasn’t even seen the field as he’s been inactive on game days.

But Sunday could be Okwuegbunam’s return to the field, not just to help out the depleted receiving corps, but also to add to the tight end room, which Denver could rely on even more moving forward.

Against the Ravens, Hackett and Klint Kubiak utilized multiple tight end sets significantly. In the first quarter, Denver had multiple tight ends on the field for 11 of their 16 plays. That aligned with Wilson going under center 12 of those 16 plays.

Wilson benefited from that, Hackett said.

“I think there was some good stuff that we did. [Using multiple tight ends] gives you a different look, both in the run game and the pass game and the play-pass world, so there’s so many different things that you can do there,” Hackett said. “We still want to be multiple. We don’t just want to lock in on one so they know what to prepare for. We want to be sure that we still have all the different personals that we utilize. But I think it’s something that we’re going to have to keep diving in to because you never know what’s going to happen on game day.”

No player benefited more from the heavy tight end packages more than Dulcich, who hauled in a team-high six receptions for 85 yards. Against the Ravens, no receiver, outside of Jeudy, had more than one catch.

For those two reasons, Hackett hinted that Sunday could be the first time Albert O. steps on the field repping a game jersey since Oct. 6.

Author

Zac Stevens was born and raised in Denver, went to the University of Denver and now covers the Denver Broncos. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from DU in 2014, Zac worked for the Cleveland Browns as a remote scout. He then jumped straight into the journalism industry at the beginning of 2016 covering the reigning world-champion Broncos and joined DNVR soon after. Catch him on Twitter @ZacStevensDNVR and daily on the DNVR Broncos podcast as the co-host.

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