Browns RB D’Ernest Johnson ready to adapt to new challenge this week

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Inside linebacker Justin Strnad #40 of the Denver Broncos tackles running back D’Ernest Johnson #30 of the Cleveland Browns in the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 21, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

BEREA, Ohio (WJW)– Cleveland Browns running back D’Ernest Johnson spoke to members of the media on Thursday as the team continues to prepare to take on the New England Patriots. Both teams are 5-4.

The Browns have faced a string of challenges this season and this week is no different. Running backs Nick Chubb and Demetric Felton tested positive for COVID-19 and their status for Sunday is in doubt. Meanwhile, fellow RB Kareem Hunt will not return yet. That leaves Johnson as the only running back active.

He said the close contact with COVID was nerve wracking, but he’s blessed and thankful that he tested negative.

“It’s an unfortunate situation that all of this occurred, but I tried to stay safe, keep my mask on and do everything right,” Johnson said.

On Wednesday, head coach Kevin Stefanski and quarterback Baker Mayfield expressed confidence in Johnson, who was the FedEx Ground Player of the Week for Week 7 following his performance against the Broncos. The pair praised Johnson’s ability to step up when needed, as well as his work ethic.

“We have kind of talked about it over the years that guys have to step up. We talked about it going back to the Denver game with D’Ernest, and he did. His role for us moving forward is somebody who we are going to count on, and he works very hard,” Stefanski said.

Johnson, who was once an undrafted free agent working on a fishing boat, is carrying that confidence into this week.

“It means a lot that the team trusted me and has a lot of faith in me to go out there and make plays,” Johnson said.

He said he hopes Chubb and Felton will be back for the game on Sunday, but he’ll be ready either way. After all, being prepared and adapting are what got him here in the first place.

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