Freddie Kitchens gave a simple answer when he was asked if he’d like to get running back Nick Chubb even more involved in the Browns offense.
“I would love to get Nick more touches,” Kitchens said.
As for how the Browns go about making that happen, starting Sunday night against the Rams, Kitchens played it much closer to the vest. Asked if giving Chubb more touches would require him to be on the field for more third downs, Kitchens smiled.
“It would, yes,” Kitchens said. “Or it could…”
Check out photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Rams Sunday by team photographer Matt Starkey
There might not be a clear answer at this point in the week, but most agree they’ve loved what they’ve seen so far from Chubb, the second-year running back who has powered his way to 137 yards on 35 carries. He’s caught seven passes for 46 yards, giving him an average of 21 per game.
It’s a solid number on par with a number of starting running backs around the league, but Kitchens isn’t the only one who believes there’s the potential for much more.
“We’ve got to get Nick going,” center JC Tretter said. “Nick’s a hell of a runner, brings a lot to the table, can do a little bit of everything. He’s a guy we look forward to blocking for. We look forward to getting opportunities to get him in space and get him running. We’ve seen the game-breaking potential of him in busting a long run. The two in Oakland last year always stand out to me.C
“We know if we can give him daylight, he can go. We look forward to getting run plays called and letting him do his work.”
The Browns got a glimmer of that game-breaking potential Monday when Chubb got loose on a 19-yard touchdown run -- his longest carry of the season. Chubb burst through a hole, veered right and cut left, dragging a Jets defender near the end of the run in a perfect display of what can happen when the offensive line does its job and Chubb displays the explosiveness that made him one of the NFL’s top rookie running backs in 2018.
He also showed off his hands a bit Monday, catching all four passes thrown his way for 36 yards. It’s a point of pride for Chubb, who wasn’t asked to catch passes very often during his decorated career at the University of Georgia. He can’t be viewed as just a runner when he’s on the field, and the Browns haven’t hesitated to split him out wide.
“I think that is something that he continues to work and he really builds trust,” quarterback Baker Mayfield said. “He is hard on himself about the receiving stuff because people label him as just as a downhill running back and he is not a guy that is going out the backfield. He sees guys like (Rams RB Todd) Gurley who went to his school or a (Panthers RB Christian) McCaffrey or (NY Jets RB) Le’Veon (Bell), and he wants to be just as dynamic. He wants to win when it comes down to it.”
Chubb played 42 of 69 snaps in Monday’s winning effort and 50 of 71 in the Week 1 loss to Tennessee. Many of those snaps he’s not playing are third downs, when the Browns have deployed the likes of Dontrell Hilliard and D'Ernest Johnson.
If he’s asked to take on more opportunities, Chubb said he’d embrace it.
“I’m whatever the team needs me to do,” Chubb said. “If they want me off the field for someone else to get a chance to go in, I’m down for that. Wherever I need to be, I’ll be there.”