BEREA, Ohio — Cleveland's top-ranked defense is without its top cornerback.
Denzel Ward will miss Sunday's game at Denver with a shoulder injury, leaving the Browns' secondary vulnerable as it tries to contain quarterback Russell Wilson and the Broncos, who have won four straight games.
Ward, a two-time Pro Bowler, missed his third straight practice on Friday, and coach Kevin Stefanski said the 26-year-old would sit this week with an injury sustained in last Sunday's 13-10 win over Pittsburgh.
Stefanski wouldn’t predict how long Ward could be sidelined, and he didn't know the exact play in which he got hurt.
Ward's absence puts extra pressure on Cleveland's secondary, which has been dealing with several injuries the past two weeks. With Ward out, the Browns likely will start Greg Newsome II and Martin Emerson Jr. at the corners, but they have other options.
“So next man up,” Stefanski said. "Guys got to step up. That’s the name of this game. Don’t have Denzel this week, but feel confident in the guys we do have.”
The Browns are allowing a league-low 143.7 yards passing.
Star defensive end Myles Garrett said it's on Cleveland's front seven to help the secondary and offset losing a player of Ward's caliber.
“I mean they make it easier for us when they extend the amount of times the quarterback has to hold the ball,” he said. "We have to make their jobs easier by getting to them quickly, rush. No fanatical effort to keep on fighting. Extend plays and continue hunting.”
The Brown could have back starting safety Juan Thornhill, who returned to practice this week after missing two games with a calf injury. He's listed as questionable.
“He’s making good progress,” Stefanski said. "I thought he moved around well.”
Starting linebacker and captain Anthony Walker Jr. made a surprise return to practice and is questionable with a hamstring injury sustained last week.
Stefanski ruled out wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (concussion). He'll miss his third straight game after being hurt on Nov. 5 against Arizona.