Browns express confidence in D’Ernest Johnson as running backs depleted

Sports

D’Ernest Johnson #30 of the Cleveland Browns runs the ball passed Khalid Kareem #90 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the fourth quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on November 07, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

BEREA, Ohio (WJW)– Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski and quarterback Baker Mayfield spoke to the media on Wednesday as the team prepares to face the New England Patriots.

The Browns are coming off a 41-16 win against the Cincinnati Bengals, their first game since the departure of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Now, Cleveland is confronted with a new challenge. Running backs Nick Chubb and Demetric Felton tested positive for COVID-19 while Kareem Hunt remains on the injured reserve. Stefanski said he does not have an updated on Chubb and Felton’s status.

“We’ll see how this week goes, if they are able to make it or not,” he said.

That means the Browns currently have one RB active: D’Ernest Johnson, who helped the team to a win over the Denver Broncos. In that game, he rushed for 146 yards on 22 carries with one touchdown. But Johnson can’t carry this Browns run game on his own.

“Guys have to step up,” Stefanski said. “His role with us is something we’re going to count on.”

Center Nick Harris also tested positive for COVID.

Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was designated to return from the IR, and the Browns signed cornerback Herb Miller and running back Dexter Williams to the practice squad.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield speaks at about 3 p.m. Follow our live blog.

Baker Mayfield says he hopes Nick Chubb and Demetric Felton get two negative tests before Sunday, but shows faith in D’Ernest Johnson. “We’re extremely confident in D’Ernest… We’ve been there before.”

“He’s a very opportunistic guy, very positive… He’s always giving 110 percent effort, that’s just the kind of guy he is.”

Mayfield says he’s happy for guards Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller, who signed extensions this week. “They protect me, they protect all our guys.”

Mayfield says the Patriots defense tries to stop what you’re best at and for the Browns that’s the run. He says we’ll see if they change with the news about the running backs.

“Emphasis for us is to continue to build and take care of the football… We’ve got to eliminate negative plays.”

“We’re a resilient group and everyone knows they have an important job here.”

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