The Cleveland Browns have a daunting task ahead of them at the start of the 2023 season. They are hosting the 2022 NFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals in the season opener, which will be a good measuring stick game for the team.
The Browns are looking to ascend the standings this season after a disappointing 2022 campaign. There is optimism that quarterback Deshaun Watson will be able to regain the form he showed earlier in his career with the Houston Texans when he was one of the top young signal callers in the NFL.
Cleveland certainly hopes that is the case as they are going to have to keep up with an explosive Bengals’ offense in Week 1. Even the toughest defenses in the NFL are going to struggle to contain Cincinnati throughout the season, led by quarterback Joe Burrow.
Burrow has arguably the best wide receiver trio in the NFL to target in Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Irv Smith Jr. is stepping in as the tight end to replace Hayden Hurst, who departed in free agency and signed a deal with the Carolina Panthers.
Slowing that group down could be a struggle for the Browns on Sunday afternoon based on recent injury updates. Star cornerback Denzel Ward has not been practicing after being placed in concussion protocol on August 26th. According to Ari Meirov on X, formerly known as Twitter, Ward was not at practice today, either.
That would be a huge blow to the Browns’ secondary if Ward was unable to suit up in Week 1. We will get a better understanding of where Ward’s chances of playing on Sunday stand when the team shares their first official injury report on Wednesday.
Nothing is official yet, but the Browns also have safety Grant Delpit and cornerback Greg Newsome III with questionable tags on their official depth chart. Safety Juan Thornhill is the only projected starter in the secondary who isn’t carrying an injury designation currently.