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Browns RB Duke Johnson cleared to practice, prepare for season opener

Browns rookie running back Duke Johnson Jr. passed through the NFL's concussion protocol and is scheduled to practice "in full" Wednesday, coach Mike Pettine said.

Johnson's progress was among the numerous encouraging bits of injury-related news for the Browns, who expect to have the majority of their 53-man roster practicing in some form or fashion leading into Sunday's season opener against the New York Jets. Defensive back Justin Gilbert (hip flexor) could be the only exception, Pettine said.

"He needs the work and the actual reps of playing," Pettine said of Johnson. "He is fully cleared to go, so it is not a matter of having to limit him that way. When you come out of the concussion protocol you are either cleared or you are not."

Johnson, the Browns' third-round pick out of Miami, has been sidelined since the second quarter of Cleveland's Aug. 29 preseason win at Tampa Bay. The versatile, change-of-pace running back touched the ball twice, rushing once for 4 yards and catching a 1-yard pass.

It was the second injury within a month for Johnson, who was out for multiple weeks of training camp because of an ailing hamstring.

"I think if he had gone out there and taken every rep we'd be a lot more confident about putting him out there for extended snaps, but I can't lie and say it doesn't factor into it some," Pettine said. "If he's cleared to go and has put a solid couple of days together here, there's no reason to think he's not going to play a significant role in the game."

After Sunday's trade of Terrance West, Johnson is one of just two running backs on the current 53-man roster. The Browns have the capability to make transactions through Saturday, and veteran Shaun Draughn, if necessary, is available from the practice squad.

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