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Browns Mailbag: What kind of role will Duke Johnson have in 2nd half of season?

The short week changes a lot of things around the Browns facility, but the Wednesday Mailbag isn't one of them.

On to the questions!

Duke Johnson got off to a fast start in the receiving game but then disappeared. Do you see him getting more involved going forward, and is he more of a passing downs and 3rd down back or can he develop into an every down back? - Matt Y., Pickerington

Outside the whole quarterback discussion, this was one of the hottest topics after Sunday's loss to the Cardinals.

Johnson made the kind of play the Browns envisioned late in the first quarter when he exploited a mismatch against Arizona linebacker Kevin Minter, took a quick slant from Josh McCown and ran 52 yards for the longest reception of his NFL career. And we all saw the kind of catch he's capable of making when he hauled in his first NFL touchdown Week 4 at San Diego.

Johnson had a minimal impact in Sunday's second half, and it was something Browns coach Mike Pettine was frank in discussing one day later. Simply put, he doesn't want it to happen again.

"Duke is a guy who has showed he can do some damage with the football," Pettine said. "I think that is on us as a staff to find more creative ways to get him the football, whether that is in the run game or whether that's in the pass game. He is showing to be the guy we thought he was. I would agree with that. We need to get him the ball more."

So, will that mean more carries for Johnson? Hard to say.

Pettine said Tuesday that Johnson's repetitions may lean more heavily toward the receiving end Thursday because of the Browns' injuries at wide receiver (Andrew Hawkins, Brian Hartline). Johnson has carried the ball an average of seven times per game. He had just one against the Cardinals.

If his carries increase, it wouldn't be anything new for the former Miami Hurricane. He toted the rock more than 20 times in a game five times as a junior at Miami, topping out at 29 for 249 yards against Virginia Tech. Even at 5-foot-9 and 210 pounds, Johnson carries the confidence of an every-down back.

"A lot of people don't really think I can do what other guys can," Johnson said in a recent interview. "That's just something that motivates me just because that's kind of been the thing through my whole career."

Will special teams specialist Johnson Bademoisi ever get a chance for some defensive reps? -- Paul S., Melbourne, Australia

Bademosi received a boatload Sunday -- 43, to be exact -- and likely will continue to as the Browns deal with three significant injuries in the secondary. Bademosi appeared to take the dime snaps from Jordan Poyer (shoulder) before Joe Haden and Donte Whitner went out with concussions. He filled in for Haden for the rest of the game, but there's no guarantee he'll do that against the Bengals. Either way, he's going to have a role that goes beyond special teams, where he's terrific.

Who are the Browns planning on using for a backup quarterback if Davis is still inactive? - Tater Tot, Zanesville

With the Browns injury situation heading into Thursday's game, healthy scratches will be few and far between against the Bengals. Pettine hasn't clarified if McCown will be available as an emergency backup of sorts, but he expressed confidence in Davis during his Tuesday press conference.

"This is one of the reasons he is here and one of the reasons we did what we did with him from a contractual standpoint. (He) is outstanding with his preparation," Pettine said. "He is as involved with the gameplan, interaction with the coaching staff and interaction with the other quarterbacks taking the mental reps behind that we feel very confident if Austin did have to get in the game just because of the way he prepares himself."

Will we see an orange out in jerseys one of these games? Or can we see the orange on orange worn by the players at a home game? -- BH, Chicago

Too early to say. Per league rules, the Browns are allowed to wear their alternate jersey one more time this season. The pants they'll wear are to be determined.

Gary Barnidge is having a great season so far. Is there a trend with the No. 82 and great Browns TE's of the past? (Ozzie Newsome, Steve Heiden, Benjamin Watson) -- Austin V., Indianapolis

Your question got us thinking, so we hit up the media guide for some assistance.

The No. 82 has been worn by 14 players since halfback Bill Lund, a Cuyahoga Heights native and Case Western alum, first donned it in 1946. The only player to wear it as long as Newsome was linebacker/defensive Jim Houston, who played in a whopping 177 games for the Browns from 1960-72. Irv Smith was the first tight end post-Newsome to wear the number (1999). Outside of David Patten in 2000, it's been tight end-exclusive ever since the Browns returned to Cleveland.

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