Cleveland Browns: D’Ernest Johnson, Demetric Felton ready to carry the ball vs Arizona
The Cleveland Browns have veteran D’Ernest Johnson and rookie Demetric Felton ready to roll on Sunday in place of Nick Chubb.
There’s no way anyone can replace the mighty Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns, who is sitting out with an injured calf muscle, and his counterpart Kareem Hunt is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. He has a problem with a wrist as well as a knee.
Under normal circumstances, he would be fully capable of being the feature back. Hunt has produced 295 yards on the ground and 149 through the air in 157 snaps, totaling 344 yards from scrimmage or 2.19 Total Yards per Snap (TYPS).
But D’Ernest Johnson is in his third year in the NFL and still has a 5.0 yard per carry average, and has generated 281 yards from scrimmage in only134 offensive snaps, or 2.10 yards per snap, which is outstanding.
By comparison, Arizona’s Chase Edmonds has 270 rushing yards and 159 receiving yards for 429 total yards from scrimmage in 212 snaps this season, or 2.02 TYPS. On paper, their performance levels are similar, but Edmonds has more snaps this season than DEJ has for his career.
Chubb, of course, is in an alternate universe with 523 rushing yards and 35 receiving yards for 558 yards from scrimmage in only 183 snaps, or 3.05 TYPS. The calf injury is the only indication we have that he might be human, after all.
Johnson also plays special teams and can cover kickoffs and punts and has also been a reliable return man, though he lacks the top gear that some of the other Browns have.
After a solid four-year college career for the South Florida Bulls, where he rushed 421 times for 1,796 yards and 16 touchdowns while also returning kickoffs and punts, Johnson’s Pro Day did not excite the scouts. A 4.81 40-yard dash time was not fast enough to persuade an NFL team to draft him or even add him as an undrafted free agent to the 90-player summer roster.
What saved his career was the short-lived Alliance of American Football, which existed for eight games in 2019. Johnson played for the Orlando Apollos, the same team as former Brown Garrett Gilbert, and he sported a 5.81 yards per carry average while finishing tied for second in rushing yards with 372. Johnson also added 220 receiving yards, which made him tops in the AAF in total yards from scrimmage with 593 yards in eight games.
Incidentally, former Brown Trent Richardson was next with 366 yards, but his yards per carry was only 2.93. Jim Brown had openly questioned why the Browns drafted him in the first round, but oh well.
In any case, Johnson caught the attention of Cleveland Browns scouts, and general manager John Dorsey was willing to take a chance on him and bring him to camp.
The media talks about quarterbacks having the ability to process information on the field and make decisions, but the same applies to running backs. D’Ernest Johnson seems to have the ability to instantaneously probe the line of scrimmage, make his decision and run to daylight.
In Cleveland, he has not gotten many reps, but when he has had the opportunity he has produced. The Browns are not going to roll over and die even if Chubb and Hunt are both unavailable.
Another option in the backfield will be Demetric Felton.