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Browns RBs Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson brimming with confidence under Hue Jackson

Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr. met with the local media on Wednesday afternoon following the second practice of OTAs, and it seemed fitting that the pair of Browns running backs took to the podium together.

After all, Crowell and Johnson shouldered the load for Cleveland's run game last season and seemed to complement each other like thunder and lighting. Crowell's a bruiser who can run through the tackles and Johnson has proven himself as a versatile weapon on the ground and in the pass game.

And with first-year coach Hue Jackson now at the helm, both said they're excited about what their roles could be next season.

"I know I am," Johnson said, "especially just seeing the way he has used (running backs) in the past and splitting them out wide and getting the best out of them and using their strengths in every way he can. I'm excited to see it. We're off to a good start already, but I'm just happy to see how far and how in depth we go with the offense."

Crowell echoed a similar feeling, "because I know Hue likes to run the ball," he said. "I feel like running the ball is a very important factor in winning and losing. I'm happy about it."

Jackson — who effectively used the similar skillsets of Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill as the offensive coordinator for the Bengals — has made it clear the Browns will work to establish a more consistent run game next season after finishing 22nd in the league last year.

The Browns took to the practice fields for Day 2 of OTAs - just the second day the rookies and veterans work on field together. (All photos by John Reid)

Jackson has been equally clear when it comes to the team's comfort level with the backs already on the roster and why Cleveland didn't feel the need to scoop up a running back in the NFL Draft.

"I think we have some really good players there," Jackson said last month, adding Crowell and Johnson are "as good as I've seen in a while. Their talent is extreme."

Asked about those comments Wednesday, the pair described the sentiment as a "confidence booster"

"I feel like me and Duke both have what it takes to be a big threat on this level," said Crowell, who led the Browns in rushing with 706 yards and four touchdowns in 2015. "Really, it just showed me that he has great confidence in us. We want to go out there and give them all we've got."

Of course, the two are still in the process of proving themselves on the field. Jackson has said Crowell needs to be more consistent and Johnson said he wants to take full advantage of what the coaching staff asks him to do.

"There were a lot of opportunities that I had last year that I didn't make that I want to make sure I capitalize on this year both running the ball and receiving," said Johnson, who emerged as a top target in the pass game with 61 catches for 534 yards and two touchdowns.

"My main thing is always protecting the quarterback first. That is something we always preach a lot here, just making sure that we do our job as far as protection and then we get out on our routes because protecting the quarterback is the first thing."

Johnson said he and Crowell are up to the challenge.

"I just think (Jackson) has a lot of confidence in us, period, just knowing that we're going out there getting the job done," he said. "We're both two young guys they have a lot of trust in knowing that we're going to go out there every day and give our all and do our job.

"He's willing to bet it all with us just because he knows. He knows our work ethic. He knows that we're going to do whatever it takes and we got his back."

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