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News & Notes: Nick Chubb-Kareem Hunt together in the backfield could be 'growing' look on offense

Chubb and Hunt were featured in the backfield together for several plays against the Panthers

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An offensive formation many Browns fans have long clamored for was used several times Sunday in Charlotte.

Nick Chubb manned one spot in the backfield. Kareem Hunt manned another.

Yup, the two running backs were used at the same time during multiple points of the Browns' season-opening 26-24 win against the Panthers. The look was even featured on Cleveland's first touchdown of the game, when Hunt lined up as a fullback in an "I formation" from the 1-yard line in front of Chubb and behind Brissett at the line of scrimmage.

Brissett faked a handoff to Chubb while Hunt dashed to the right. No Panthers defenders followed him — they were all focused on Chubb, instead — and allowed Brissett to make an easy pass to Hunt for the TD.

The Browns flirted with a look a few other times in the first half, and it was one reason why they found success in their run game — the duo combined for 33 carries for 187 yards, which averaged an excellent 5.6 yards per carry.

"I don't have the exact number (of times they lined up together), but it's something that we're always going to explore week in and week out what we feel like gives the defense a tough time," head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "There were plenty of snaps versus that defense of looks like that."

Expect to see more of that look moving forward.

The Browns know they need to rely on Chubb and Hunt plenty to keep the ball moving. They've mostly used them a separate times since Hunt arrived in 2019 to ensure both backs have a full tank of gas for late-game situations, but it's no secret this year that their run game is a much stronger element of the Browns' offense than the pass game.

The Browns want to maximize that strength, and they appear to be more willing to use both Chubb and Hunt simultaneously to do so.

"We will continue to explore those type of things," Stefanski said. "Part of the offensive gameplan is to do what we do, but also try to do things that may give them problems. Moving forward, definitely could see something like that growing."

Check out photos of the Browns against the Panthers in Week 1

No new injuries

The Browns biggest win Sunday obviously came on the scoreboard, but another win can be found on the injury list.

It's empty.

Head coach Kevin Stefanski said Monday that no players suffered any injuries of note in Week 1. Sure, there are the usual knicks and bruises that happen every game, but no players suffered an injury that could limit their availability to Week 2 home-opener against the Jets.

The Browns might even have a key player who could return, too.

OT Jack Conklin was the lone Browns starter who missed Week 1 due to injury. He's progressed closer to full health since he started practicing at the beginning of training camp, but he wasn't quite healthy enough for kickoff Sunday.

Stefanski believes he'll be ready soon.

"No setbacks," Stefanski said. "He's close — really close. He felt like he was close for this game, but we're just going to continue to make smart decisions with doctor's input and with Jack's input moving forward."

Hudson 'fought like crazy' at RT

It's just one game, but OT James Hudson III looked like a vastly improved player in Week 1.

With Conklin out, Hudson, a 2021 fourth-round pick, was inserted at right tackle and faced Derrick Brown and Brian Burns, a 2021 Pro Bowler, on the Panthers' defensive edge.

Hudson didn't allow a sack in 80 snaps and earned a solid 76.0 grade from Pro Football Focus. His lone blemish was a penalty for as an ineligible man downfield, but he was otherwise absent from the scoresheet — which usually means a good game for an offensive linemen.

It's certainly a big step in the right direction for Hudson after he worked through some inconsistent stretches in 12 games and four starts last season as a rookie.

"He fought like crazy," Stefanski said. "Obviously, when you're going against premier rushers in Burns and going into the game that a heavy-pressure team, we knew that we would have to be smart about our protections and not leave our guys one on one very often. When we did, they did a nice job."

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