Nick Chubb returned to the practice field this week for the Browns and could play Sunday against the rival Steelers.
If he doesn’t, he’ll have a worthy replacement ready to take his carries. D'Ernest Johnson won the FedEx Ground Player of the Week award following a career-high 146 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries in Cleveland’s Week 7 win over Denver.
On the sideline in street clothes, Chubb had a front row seat for it.
“It was awesome to see him, Johnny (Stanton) and John (Kelly) all go out there and step up,” Chubb said, via the team’s official site. “We needed them big, and they came through for us. It was awesome watching them play, watching them run through those guys and have a good game.
“Two or three years ago, (Johnson) was fishing on a boat trying to find some money and find some work. Now, he is here on the Browns, and he had a great game. It is his story, where he has come from, trusting in the process and never giving up. He is just a lovable guy, too. He is one of my best friends on the team, and it was fun watching him play.”
Also enjoyable to watch play: Chubb, one of the top five rushers in the NFL despite not playing since Week 5. He hopes to be cleared in time for Cleveland’s first of two meetings with Pittsburgh, a matchup that was pivotal in last year’s AFC North race, and one in which the Browns currently own a rare two-game winning streak.
“I hope so,” Chubb said. “We’ll see how this week goes, we’ll see how practice goes and we’ll make the decision later on.”
Cleveland had Kareem Hunt available in the first game Chubb missed (a 37-14 loss to Arizona), but he exited late in that contest with his own calf injury. On a short week, the onus shifted to Johnson, Demetric Felton and John Kelly. Fullback Johnny Stanton was called into action too following an injury to Andy Janovich in Week 5, and he ended up catching a touchdown pass in the Browns’ 17-14 win over the Broncos.
That’s heartwarming and all, but the Browns would clearly prefer to have their premier runner available against a division rival. In his last two games against the Steelers, Chubb has rushed for 184 yards and one touchdown on 32 carries, and he’s added four receptions for 69 yards and another score.
Chubb is a legitimate weapon, and these banged-up Browns — who still might not have Baker Mayfield (shoulder) available this weekend — need as much firepower as possible. They’ll hope Chubb’s bazooka-like explosiveness is in their armory Sunday.
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