Duke Johnson is steadfast with his message.
From Draft Day in 2015 until he led the team in receptions last season, from this offseason — when the Browns both drafted and signed a running back — until Wednesday — when he was asked about the trade involving one of those running backs — his message to the media about his role hasn't changed.
"I think the one thing that I have said since I have been here," Johnson said. "I am always going to do my job regardless of what it is."
For the first six weeks of the season, the Browns had three good running backs that warranted touches. With the trade of Carlos Hyde to Jacksonville, they cleared the path for the two youngest ones. But Johnson's path to more touches remained blocked on Sunday against Tampa Bay. He carried the ball just once and was targeted four times. Meanwhile, rookie Nick Chubb carried the ball 18 times.
So was the trade all about springing Chubb?
"No, I think it is that way for both [Chubb and Johnson]," Browns coach Hue Jackson said Wednesday. "Before the season is out, you are going to hear from them both."
After one game, Chubb received a bigger bump. But Johnson is used to a dearth of touches. He's dealt with it all season (20 carries and 26 targets through seven games). So he's taken pride in blocking and leading instead of focusing on negatives. That's not to say Johnson is pleased with his lack of touches, but right now, touches aren't the only part of his job description.
"It's always a challenge," Johnson said. "Especially with my skillset and being that I was able to accomplish (a lot) back in college and high school. But I always try to find a way to be positive and try to move forward and just focus on the things I can control."