With the quarterbacks analyzed Monday, we're moving a step or two backward to the Browns running backs as we continue our position-by-position analysis of the roster heading into 2018 training camp.
THE RUNNING BACKS
Duke Johnson Jr.
What we know: The Browns brought in two new faces to take the lion's share of carries in 2018. Hyde, who spent his first four seasons with the 49ers, came to Cleveland shortly after Isaiah Crowell, the team's most active ball-carrier since 2014, signed with the Jets. Chubb, an old-school, "violent" runner from Georgia, landed with the Browns early in the second round of the NFL Draft. The returning constant is Johnson, who signed a contract extension during OTAs. The presence of Hyde and Chubb should allow Johnson to thrive as a change-of-pace option who has amassed more receptions (188) and receiving yards (1,741) than any running back since 2015. It's a triple-threat the Browns hope to utilize early, often and all the way to the finish one year after the team tied for third-best in the NFL in yards per carry (4.5) but ranked 18th in total rushing yards.
Biggest question: How will the Browns distribute the carries between Chubb and Hyde? New running backs coach Freddie Kitchens indicated he'll ride the hot hand throughout the season. What was clear in June was he hadn't seen enough to determine who would even take the first carry of the first preseason game. "If they are having success, why would you change? It may be somebody new from week to week," Kitchens said. "As far as duties with carries and stuff like that, we are nowhere close right now. Things can change. We were talking about it this morning, things can change in a heartbeat. In one play, everything can change. That is the approach we have to take. Go with what you see." Splitting the carries would be nothing new for Chubb, who shared duties at Georgia with Sony Michel, who was drafted a few picks earlier than him by the Patriots. Hyde, who battled injuries but is coming off his best season yet in the NFL, was the bell cow in San Francisco.
X-Factor: Everyone knows what kind of pass-catching threat the Browns have in Johnson, but there's optimism in Berea about what Hyde and Chubb can do through the air. Hyde caught just 50 passes in his first three seasons in San Francisco but amassed 57 in 2017. Chubb was sparsely used in Georgia's passing game, but Cleveland wasted little time getting him involved throughout OTAs and minicamp. Simply put, the Browns believe both downhill runners can make an impact beyond what they do on the ground. "I think they've got better hands than a lot of people feel like they have," Kitchens said. "They didn't have very many dropped balls in OTAs and minicamp. You evaluate what you see on tape. What I see on tape is they're consistently catching the football. Now, we've got to get them to the point where they get open more. That comes with repetition and them actually doing it."
Stat tracker: Chubb finished with more than 100 yards in more than half of his 47 games at Georgia. He cleared 200 on three occasions.
Says it all: "Those guys know we've got great competition in that room. It starts on an individual basis from within. You've got to compete with yourself and we've got guys that do that very well. Then compete inside our room and compete offensively and compete as a team. That's how it's organized. We don't have anybody in the room that's going to back away from competition at all. That's a good scenario to have." -- Kitchens
How many were kept at last year's 53-man cutdown? 3