The anticipated news of a season-ending knee injury to RB Nick Chubb came on Tuesday.
The four-time Pro Bowler will require surgery for the knee injury he sustained in the second quarter on Monday against the Steelers. Now, the Browns must find a way to fill the void of Chubb's absence in their offense for the remainder of the season.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski said on Tuesday that general manager and executive vice president of football operations Andrew Berry and the personnel department are working through potential options of running backs they could add to the roster. Stefanski said they have to look at available options and doesn't believe that there is one specific skillset they are looking for when it comes to adding another running back to the roster.
Yet, Stefanski made one point very clear.
"You don't replace Nick Chubb," Stefanski said. "You just don't do that."
Check out photos of the Browns against the Steelers in Week 2
As the Browns move on to Week 3 against the Titans – as well as the remainder of the season – Stefanski said each matchup brings a bit of redesign and reimagination of the offense depending on who is available. Yet, he holds a high level of trust in his running back room.
Losing Chubb does shift some responsibilities to different players, but Stefanski said they would work on those factors throughout the remainder of the season. It's not always just one player who can fill the hole left behind by a player of Chubb's caliber. Stefanski said it will require everyone to contribute more across their offense.
The Browns have two second-year running backs in Jerome Ford and Pierre Strong Jr. to help fill the void. Stefanski named Ford the feature running back for now.
On Monday, Strong demonstrated his potential with the Browns with his one-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter. During his rookie season with the Patriots, Strong rushed for 100 yards on 10 carries and one touchdown. He also caught seven receptions for 42 yards.
Ford finished his rookie season in Cleveland rushing for just 12 yards on eight carries. In a different role this season – especially now – Ford will see an increase in his carries.
On Monday, Ford rushed for 106 yards on 16 carries, averaging 6.6 yards per carry. His longest carry was for a 69-yard gain. Ford also caught three receptions for 25 yards and a touchdown. Through two games this season, Ford has rushed for 142 yards on 31 carries.
"Jerome, as we've told you guys all along, he studies hard, knows what to do, runs hard," Stefanski said Monday night. "There's a reason we like him. There's a reason he is a big part of what we do, and obviously his role will increase. I think he is ready for that."
Ford dealt with a hamstring injury during camp, but it didn't hinder OC Alex Van Pelt's plans on what they could do with their running backs. That confidence in how they could incorporate Ford into the offense will prove beneficial with him as the current feature back.
"He's very sharp," Van Pelt said of Ford. "He hasn't missed a beat since he's been back, in all those meetings we've had. Feel very confident with him in there as a protector and a ball carrier, whether it's first, second or third down."