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Andy Janovich ready to work with a 'dream offense' for fullbacks

Andy Janovich wasn't sure how to feel when he received the call from Denver Broncos general manager John Elway in March.

The call lasted less than a minute, but the message signified a pivotal change in Janovich's career.

"Hey, I got some news for you," Janovich recalled Elway saying. "We're trading you to the Browns."

"Oh," said Janovich, who spent his first four NFL seasons in Denver. "OK, sounds good."

And that was it.

Janovich, a fullback, was done in Denver, and he didn't know much about where he was going next. Not only did he know little about Cleveland, but he wasn't sure how fullbacks, which have become an increasingly rare breed in football, would fit in the Browns' offense.

So, he did some research and talked with Browns Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt. It didn't take long for Janovich to realize his role with the Browns actually would be quite big.

"When I really started digging in to researching them, that's when I found out what I was going to get into," Janovich said in a recent edition of Working From Home. "I was like, 'Yeah, this is going to be good.' After learning everything that's going on, I'm more than excited to be a part of the Browns and the offense they're installing. That's something I've been in before and I excel in, so I'm really excited about it."

Check out photos of Fullback Andy Janovich

The fullback is one of the most unique positions in the NFL. It's essentially an additional running back that carries a heavier emphasis on blocking, but they are still deployed to occasionally run and catch the ball for short pickups. Not every team carries a fullback, and the Browns haven't had a starter at the position since Danny Vitale started six games in 2017. 

That will change under coach Kevin Stefanski. Last year as offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, Stefanski used fullback C.J. Ham in 34 percent of his offensive snaps, second of all fullbacks in the league. He needs fullbacks for his zone-running scheme to operate at peak efficiency, so it was no surprise to see the Browns acquire Janovich, who played in seven games last season before suffering a season-ending elbow injury in Week 11.

Janovich has shown plenty of capability as a runner and pass-catcher, too. He's averaged just over 10 yards per catch and four yards per carry in 35 total touches, serviceable numbers that could see a significant increase in Stefanski's offense.

"I'm really excited to add Andy into our group," Stefanski said after the trade was official. "He's a schematic fit to what we want to be. He has all the intangibles you think of when you think of fullbacks. He's as tough as they come. He's a team player through and through. Fits the mentality of what we're trying to be."

Janovich's role in Cleveland will be to elevate the play of Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The Chubb-Hunt running back tandem is already one of the best in the NFL — both have made Pro Bowl appearances and Chubb was 47 yards away from winning the league's rushing title last season. In the passing game, Janovich will be asked to make key blocks and be a cog in play-action passes from Mayfield.

The Browns have Pro-Bowl promise all across the field on offense, and Janovich is eager to get to work with what he hopes will be the most talented group he's been a part of.

"It's unbelievable," he said. "You just look at it and think this can't be real. This is a dream offense."

It's certainly a welcomed change for Janovich, who has been doing his work in the Browns' virtual offseason program from his home in Nebraska. 

When he arrives in Cleveland, though, Janovich knows his talents will be maximized. He can't wait.

"Just the fact that I'm here and considered to be here," he said, "I'm just like, 'All right, let's go to work and let's get this done.'"