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Four Downs: Spotlighting QB Austin Davis, FB Malcolm Johnson and more

Welcome to Four Downs, a bi-weekly article that takes a deeper look at the storylines, matchups and anything else involving the Browns on their two days away from the field: Tuesday and Saturday.

Our second edition looks at the importance of a few unheralded members of the roster and a stat that will blow you away.

1. Austin Davis ready to roll if needed

On Sept. 4, Austin Davis learned he was no longer in the St. Louis Rams' plans. A little more than a week later, he talked from his locker Monday as a Browns quarterback who could be one snap away from seeing the field when Cleveland hosts Tennessee on Sunday in its home opener.

Needless to say, Davis talked like a quarterback who hadn't looked up from his new playbook much since he arrived in Cleveland.

"It's just a lot of extra hours and I knew that coming in, I knew that's what it was going to take," Davis said. "Just trying to match terminology, get a feel for the personnel, get a feel for the identity of the football team, what the offense wants to be, I think that's important. You miss that when you're not here during training camp.

"There's just a lot of things to catch up on. There's not any excuses."

The chain of events that led Davis to be in the position as Cleveland's backup quarterback Sunday are nothing compared to what he experienced last season.

Davis considered himself to be the fourth-string quarterback at the start of training camp last year with the Rams. Undrafted out of Southern Miss in 2012, Davis bounced around a bit before he could even reach that unsavory spot on the depth chart.

He worked his way up to the No. 3 spot and was thrown into the fire by the second half of St. Louis' season opener. Starter Sam Bradford went down in the preseason and backup Shaun Hill was injured in the season opener's first half.

Davis completed 16-of-23 passes for 192 yards and an interception in the 34-6 loss.

"That was really tough, really hard," Davis said. "I struggled in that first game but once I got a week of prep and got going and things kind of slowed down. That's the way it goes at this position."

Davis went on to start eight more games and notched a 3-5 record. He threw for 2,001 yards with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

The Browns added a fourth quarterback to the roster Tuesday with the signing of Matt Blanchard to the practice squad, a move that could potentially ease the load off Davis' work with the scout team. Veteran Josh McCown is day to day in the league's concussion protocol, and the Browns are planning as if backup Johnny Manziel will have to start Sunday.

Davis carries the confidence of a starting quarterback because he's done it before and performed amicably. He believes he can do it again but stressed it wasn't his current focus.

"I think what's important that if this team needs me to play, I've got to be ready to go," he said.

2. Malcolm Johnson relishing exclusive role with Browns

Malcolm Johnson admits the worst possible thoughts crossed his mind when he injured his shoulder during training camp.

The sixth-round pick from Mississippi State knew he fell into a good situation when the Browns picked him on Day 3 of the 2015 draft. They wanted him to be a fullback, and there weren't any others on the roster.

Still, nothing is given in the NFL, and injuries only make things more difficult. It's why Johnson was initially worried about where he'd be when his rookie season began when he felt the pain in his shoulder.

"Gladly it was just a minor sprain. It was a blessing," Johnson said. "When I found out it wasn't that serious, I was cheered up."

Johnson was the only fullback to make the 53-man roster. He was one of five members of the 2015 draft class to see the field in Sunday's season opener and his impact was immediate. Johnson made the first catch of the season and finished with two receptions for 14 yards.

Johnson finds it hard to envision a better possible situation for someone who didn't even know if he'd be drafted.

"I played tight end in college, so they knew I had some type of route-running ability in my nature," Johnson said. "I'm just using it whatever way they ask me to and do it to the best of my ability."

Take a look at the Cleveland Browns roster as of September 1, 2017.

3. A banner month-plus for Travis Coons

Browns kicker Travis Coons made NFL history on Sunday, the latest highlight of a banner month-plus for the Alta Loma, California native.

His 48-yard extra point was the longest in league history. What made it more impressive was it was his third made kick in a span of a few minutes.

It was nothing new for Coons, who has made every kick and extra point in game situations since the Orange and Brown scrimmage. He's also been solid on kickoffs, too, sending the majority of them back for touchbacks.

The Browns will hope to make it easier on Coons when it comes to extra points Sunday and they'll be confident when he attempts his next 48-yarder when it's worth three points.

4. Stat of the week

That the Browns rank 14th in the NFL in rushing offense after running for just 104 yards against the Jets was a close second, but this one, courtesy of ESPN's Trey Wingo, stood out the most.

NFL tight ends combined to score 22 receiving touchdowns in Week 1, the most touchdowns in a week by tight ends in the last 15 seasons.

Cleveland's three tight ends were targeted nine times Sunday. Gary Barnidge led the way with three receptions for 38 yards while Jim Dray had one for 13.

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