Ladies and gentlemen, it’s officially football season. The Browns are a week into training camp out in Berea, and the 2019 season is just a few weeks away. This offseason was an eventful one for the Browns as they added multiple stars like Odell Beckham Jr., among others, but they have some decisions to make at another key offensive position: running backs.
The Browns currently have seven running backs on their training camp roster. Obviously, come Sept. 1, they will be cut that group down, but that begs the question: who deserves to be part of the depth chart by week one of the regular season?
Once Kareem Hunt is back from his suspension, the Browns will boast one of the best backfields in the NFL, but what it looks like before he’s back is another story.
Obviously Nick Chubb is going to be the main focus in the backfield, and will get the majority of the snaps during the season. Duke Johnson is going to be a big part of the offense as well, as long as he does not get traded. For now at least that seems unlikely as Browns have said they are not going to trade him. Freddie Kitchen told NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala this week that, “he’s under contract, he’s a Cleveland Brown, and he’s going to be used to the best of his ability in what helps the team.”
So once Hunt is back, my suggestion is to move Johnson to a flex position. Duke has proven time and time again that he is dangerous as a pass catcher and he would get the best look at that position from other teams if were the even of a trade would happen. So, we move on to the backfield, here’s where things get tricky.
Who should fall in line behind Chubb and Hunt, once he returns in Week Nine? There’s D’Ernest Johnson who comes from the now non-existent Alliance of American Football, and is trying to prove himself on the biggest rather than the AAF. There is also Dontrell Hillard, who has been having an amazing camp with the Browns this year, and his hard work could pay off.
For me though, it’s AJ Ouellette, who posted thirteen touchdowns, and 1306 yards in his final season at Ohio University. I believe the rookie deserves a shot. With a new coach, Ouellette should not be overlooked in camp, and he should be the other running back to make this roster.
With a running back core that the Browns possess this season there are a lot of weapons for Kitchens could use to win a games this year, and who he chooses for those backup roles could help the cause.