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3 Big Takeaways: Demetric Felton, D'Ernest Johnson give Browns even more playmaking options

The Cleveland RBs took advantage of another big opportunity Sunday

The Browns came away winners of their second preseason game, taking down the Giants, 17-13, on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Here are three things that stood out the most from the win.

1) Demetric Felton, D'Ernest Johnson give Browns even more playmaking options

Sunday marked another game with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt on the sidelines and another game in which their understudies made the most of their opportunities.

D'Ernest Johnson, entering his third season with the Browns, was the spark plug on the Browns' first offensive series, which ended with a KhaDarel Hodge touchdown catch. Johnson caught an 8-yard pass and broke off runs of 14 and 18 to get Cleveland moving into scoring range. 

Johnson finished the game with four carries for 36 yards and four catches for 23 yards. It was another standard, solid performance from a player who has risen to the occasion any time the Browns have needed him.

"It's a lot better than when I first got here my rookie year," Johnson said. "I'm a vet now, so I know what's going on, but at the same time I've got to come out every day and compete."

Demetric Felton, meanwhile, is very much a rookie, but the Browns haven't hesitated to put a lot on his plate.

The sixth-round pick out of UCLA was primarily used as a wide receiver through the first two weeks of training camp — a move that was made mostly out of necessity because of injuries at the position. Felton, though, showed he could handle it, making a variety of plays in practice and catching four passes for 44 yards in the Browns' preseason opener against the Jaguars. This past week, Felton went back to running back, his primary spot at college, and took a sizable amount of carries during the two joint practices with the Giants and again Sunday. 

Felton registered eight carries for 25 yards and caught one pass for 12 yards. He also got some work on punt returns, taking back three for a combined 21 yards.

"He did a nice job," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "Got to go back and look at it to give you a better, more informed answer but he did a nice job. Had him out there running routes, handing him the ball, handling protection, so we will be able to look at all of it."

With Chubb and Hunt ready to roll as one of the NFL's best 1-2 punches at running back, Johnson and Felton are well aware their clearest path to the 53-man roster is through special teams. On Sunday, they showed they can handle a little bit of everything if they're ever needed in that capacity.

Johnson has done it before, and Felton is showing the potential to do the same.

"Special teams is the way to get on the roster," Johnson said. "That's what my role is going to be until my name is called but I try to make the best out of it. I try to make sure I do everything right when I contribute on special teams."

2) A sigh of relief

The Browns got some good news on the injury front after Friday's practice, as C Nick Harris is considered day to day with a knee injury. Harris got tangled up in a pile and was promptly taken off the field early in Friday's joint practice with the Giants.

Harris, a 2020 fifth-round pick out of Washington, was working with the first-team offense when he suffered the injury. It's a role he grew comfortable with early last year, when he filled in for veteran JC Tretter through most of training camp. Harris also showed off his versatility later in the year when he was summoned to play right guard in Cleveland's Week 15 and 16 games against the Giants and Jets.

Blake Hance, who primarily has played guard since joining the Browns in January, started at center Sunday.

"With some of the injuries we have had, as you know, these guys have to show their versatility and they have to be able to bounce along that line," Stefanski said. "That is something that ultimately we want to find the right spot for all of these guys. A lot of it is from an evaluation standpoint."

3) Eyes on the kickers

Cody Parkey, the veteran kicker who manned the position for almost all of 2020, suffered an injury to his quadriceps in Sunday's first half. Stefanski said he wasn't sure when it happened and did not yet know the severity.

Without Parkey, the Browns deployed Chase McLaughlin to handle all of the duties in the second half. The journeyman has kicked well throughout training camp, and that continued Sunday, as he knocked through a 49-yarder with plenty to spare right down the middle of the uprights in the Dawg Pound end of FirstEnergy Stadium. 

Last week, Parkey made a 48-yarder in Jacksonville and was a perfect 5-for-5 during a live kicking drill at Friday's practice. McLaughlin was 4-of-5 with his only miss coming from 51.

"Obviously, we want to get some evaluation from these guys," Stefanski said. "We were going to kick a field goal there [earlier in the game] and then we had a sack that was called and took us out of field goal range. Was pleased that we were able to get to field goal range for that last one."

Check out photos of the Browns against the Giants in week two of the preseason

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