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Browns asking a lot from Duke Johnson, and he couldn't be happier

Duke Johnson Jr. couldn't wipe the smile off his face as he fielded questions Monday about his potentially expanded role within Cleveland's offense.

Asked which position meetings he attends these days, Johnson said he simply follows Hue Jackson. The Browns coach said the same Sunday after a particularly impressive practice from the third-year running back, who carried the load with the first-team offense while Isaiah Crowell rested and hauled in two touchdown catches within a few plays of each other during a red zone period.

"He is doing sensationally," Jackson said. "We ask a lot of Duke. Duke is doing a lot of things for us. He is a terrific football player. Glad he is a part of our organization and team. He is very valuable to what we do."

The value comes from his ability to impact the game as both a runner and a receiver, something he's done through his first two seasons with the Browns. It's just expected, both by Jackson and Johnson, to be elevated to another level in 2017.

Over two seasons, Johnson has amassed 737 rushing yards (averaging 4.2 yards per carry) to go along with 114 receptions for 1,048 yards. Only two other running backs have more receptions since 2015 than Johnson, who had just 69 receptions over three seasons at the University of Miami, where he was the bellcow running back.

Johnson said the periodic time he spends with senior offensive assistant/wide receivers coach Al Saunders has made him a better pass-catcher and bigger threat to opposing defenses.

"I just want to be more productive and I believe I will be," Johnson said. "Granted that I just continue to do what I am asked from the coaches."

The Browns hit the practice fields in Berea for day 4 of training camp.

Now that he's a third-year player entering his second season under Jackson, Johnson is being asked to take on even more responsibility within Cleveland's offense. Thus the ambiguity when it comes to which position meetings he's attending.

Asked if Johnson would be called upon to play more out of the slot -- an area he'd occasionally motion to from the backfield -- Jackson said Johnson was "going to do everything."

"He can catch out of the backfield. He runs the ball. We line him up in different places where we can get an advantage with him. He is a weapon for us," Jackson said. "We are just trying to use him as much as we can, and we do. He has to bounce around to a lot of different rooms. That is why I said we ask a lot of him. He has responded well."

Johnson's response for this year's training camp was born out of frustration. He watched every play he made and didn't make during his second NFL season and was left wondering why he didn't do more with the opportunities he was given.

That's what he plans to change most in 2017, no matter where he's lined up.

"I didn't make enough plays. I didn't make enough plays for the team," Johnson said. "That's something I brought to the coaching staff that I need to do is make more plays and they're giving me the opportunity to do that."

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