Cleveland Browns 2015 position preview: Running Backs


Jun 16, 2015; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Terrance West (28) during minicamp at the Cleveland Browns practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns are planning to run the ball as much as possible in 2015, meaning the running back position will carry extra importance during training camp.

The team returns Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell, who as rookies combined for almost 1,300 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. Joining the second-year players in camp will be draftees Duke Johnson and Malcolm Johnson, free agent signings Shaun Draughn and Luke Lundy, and incumbent Glenn Winston, who appeared in five games for the Browns last season without recording a stat.

How the competition shakes out during training camp will go a long way toward giving us an idea if the plan to turn the Browns into a run first team will be a success or not.

Related: Cleveland Browns 2015 Position Review: Wide Receivers

Today, in the second of our continuing series on predicting the final roster for the 2015 season, we take a look at the running back/fullback position and try to nail down who’s in and who’s out come September.

Prior to the start of the 2014 season, the Browns went out and made a splash in free agency by signing running back Ben Tate away from the Houston Texans, drafting West, and signing Crowell as an undrafted free agent. As Tate butted heads with the coaching staff and fell out of favor, leading to his eventual release, West became the starter for the team midway through the season.

Jun 16, 2015; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns linebacker Chris Kirksey (58) and Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson (29) during minicamp at the Cleveland Browns practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns added another veteran back to the mix in Winston after Tate’s release, but the plan was to feature the baby backs through the rest of the season. Unfortunately, West’s attitude and poor ball handling habits led the team to demoting him and promoting Crowell to the featured back role. Crowell excelled, but fumbling concerns led the team to seek further help via the 2015 NFL Draft.

The Browns addressed the position by adding Johnson, who left the University of Miami as the school’s all-time leading rusher, and Johnson, a versatile tight end/H-back at Mississippi State who the Browns plan to make a fullback. They also added veteran Draughn and Lundy via free agency. The Browns are committed to adding not only depth, but young, fresh backs to the roster in support their efforts to focus on running the ball before turning things over to a tough, hard-nosed defense to win games in 2015.

Related: Browns running backs returning to passing game

As we see it here, your 2015 depth chart at running back and fullback for the Cleveland Browns breaks down with Crowell, Duke Johnson, West and Winston holding down the running back slot, and Malcolm Johnson claiming the fullback slot.

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That leaves Draughn and Lundy on the outside looking for work or hoping for a place on the team’s practice squad.

The Browns did a good job this offseason in addressing the position bringing in a change of pace back in Duke Johnson along with bringing in a true fullback in Malcolm Johnson. The team looks to keep the guys fresh and rely on a rotation at the position. The team did learn from its three-headed attack last year and won’t hesitate to let the man with the hot hand carry the load on a game-to-game basis.

How do you see the running back situation for the Browns in 2015?

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