Broncos finally call up promising practice squad wide receiver

Denver Broncos wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland. Mandatory Credit: C. Morgan Engel-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland. Mandatory Credit: C. Morgan Engel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos finally made the decision, at long last, to call up young wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland off the practice squad against the Steelers.

The injury bug has bit the Denver Broncos hard again here in the 2021 season. The 2020 season was a complete wash because of injuries on both sides of the ball, and while the 2021 season isn’t there yet, it’s getting to be a bit much.

With that said, the Broncos are getting some reinforcements against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week five in the form of starting cornerback Ronald Darby as well as quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who missed the second half of the team’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens with a concussion.

The Broncos were forced to place tight end Albert Okwuegbunam on IR with an injury he suffered during practice this week, and they also had to list wide receiver Courtland Sutton as questionable when he suffered a sprained ankle in practice.

Denver Broncos call up Tyrie Cleveland from practice squad

Heading into the 2021 offseason, there were some pretty high expectations on Cleveland from the Denver Broncos’ fans. Cleveland had been anticipated to win the WR5 job fairly easily behind Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, and KJ Hamler.

He struggled badly in training camp with dropped passes, then missed some time with injuries in the preseason, and didn’t make enough big plays to even warrant a 53-man roster spot, much less a WR5 job and spot in the rotation.

As fate would have it, Cleveland is going to get his shot after all.

He’s capable of making big plays with his length and speed, and like many players on the Denver Broncos’ roster, Cleveland has elite overall athletic metrics.

Coming out of Florida, Cleveland was known for being one of the best special teams players in the entire draft class. He got the chance to show that a bit in the 2020 season by playing just under 30 percent of the team’s special teams snaps and he also got involved in the offense with six receptions for 63 yards.

He also returned a few kickoffs for the Broncos, and we might see him get involved in that phase of the game as well with Diontae Spencer potentially missing the game.

If Courtland Sutton is unable to go for this one, we could see another player — likely Seth Williams — called up from the practice squad.

For Cleveland, this is a golden opportunity. Injuries are to be expected in the NFL, but I don’t think anyone saw three of the team’s top four receivers going down this early in the season (assuming Sutton can’t play, which he still might).

Even if Sutton does play against the Steelers, there’s a good chance we’ll see a healthy dose of Cleveland. He knows the offense well and unlike David Moore, he played in it last season.

As is also the case with recent acquisition David Moore, Cleveland gives the Denver Broncos’ offense a playmaker who can get deep in a hurry. He has legit sub-4.4 speed and is capable of keeping a defense honest as a vertical threat.

How much will he play against the Steelers? We’ll see, but the Broncos don’t need to be wasting one of just two call-ups they have this season for Cleveland.

Who knows? Maybe he will parlay it into a permanent gig back on the active roster.