Cleveland Browns running backs still slowed by slew of injuries

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BEREA, Ohio  — Browns rookie running back Duke Johnson will not play in the team’s exhibition opener against Washington as he continues to deal with a hamstring injury.

The third-round pick from Miami has been out since Aug. 1, and Cleveland’s backfield has been slowed by a rash of injuries since camp opened.

Terrance West, the team’s leading rusher as a rookie last season, returned to practice Sunday. However, Shaun Draughn, making a strong push to earn a roster spot, was kept out with a left thumb injury.

“Took a shot on his thumb so we’re going to go ahead and it will be casted for a couple days,” head coach Mike Pettine said. “Not sure of the course of action just yet. It’s nothing serious where he’s definitely out with it. Just have to wait a couple days to determine the best course of treatment for it”

The Browns have big plans for the versatile Johnson, but he’s missing valuable time. Pettine does not have a timetable on when Johnson will return.

Browns running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery wants to identify one back as the team’s “bell cow,” and has been frustrated that none of his young backs has stepped up to embrace the starter’s role.

“You don’t know what personnel you are putting out on the field. You can go three wides, four wides or two tight ends and one back. It all depends on what the coordinator calls and what personnel he wants out on the field. Duke (Johnson_ can fit into all of the personnel,” Montgomery added.