Skip to main content

OTAs & Minicamp

Nick Chubb reflects on 2023 season-ending knee injury and his anticipated return

Chubb sustained a season-ending knee injury in Week 2 of the 2023 season

Nick Chubb OTAs 6.5.24

As the Browns took to the practice field at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus for the final week of OTAs, a familiar face stood among them on the sidelines. Wearing a brown sweatshirt with the number "24" printed on the back, RB Nick Chubb watched his teammates participate in a series of drills.

Chubb continues to rehab from the season-ending knee injury he endured in Week 2 at Pittsburgh. He underwent two successful surgeries to repair his medial capsule, meniscus, and medial collateral ligament, as well as his anterior cruciate ligament. The estimated recovery time from the two surgeries indicates that Chubb can return to play during the 2024 season.

"I'm getting better every day. Taking it day by day, getting better. Just right now, trying to get stronger," Chubb said. "I like where I'm at. I'm where I need to be. I would say that the biggest thing for me is getting better every day."

Following the injury, Chubb decided to stay around CrossCountry Mortgage Campus and the team throughout the remainder of the 2023 season. He was in the building going through his rehab. He traveled to be around the team for their extended stay in Los Angeles ahead of Week 13 against the Rams.

His teammates dedicated the 2023 season to Chubb. Some wrote his number and last name on tape around their wrists. Others wore his jersey from either Georgia or the Browns, or t-shirts created in his honor. Head coach Kevin Stefanski even delivered a game ball to Chubb following the Browns' win over the Titans in Week 3.

"It was special," Chubb said. "The team did a great job of being there for me. I was down mentally for a while. Just when you get hurt, I mean it's one thing when you get hurt again and you already know what you got to go through and the entire process – surgery and rehab – it's a nonstop battle every day. So, my team did a great job just being there for me."

Chubb also found solace in staying around the team and the facility following the injury. So did his teammates, who took notice of Chubb around the facility as he rehabbed and worked out.

"It was tough. It's always hard not being able to play the game with your guys who you go through camp with, the spring with," Chubb said. "It's definitely motivated me to come out here and see the guys practicing. I want to get out there and help them, I want to be a part of this team, so it definitely motivates me to get back."

Chubb has gone through the rehab process once before when he sustained a similar injury to the same knee during his sophomore season at Georgia. He returned to the field for Georgia the next season in 2016 and rushed for 1,345 yards and 15 touchdowns.

That experience allowed him to understand how to attack the process from a mental perspective, as well as the importance of taking each day in the rehab process as its own. Over time, he knew that those days and weeks would add up to get him to the point in which he can return. Chubb said he does not have a set timeline for his return, and instead approaching each day individually.

While he never fully considered the possibility of not playing again, when he started to run again, Chubb saw a shift in himself. He turned his mind back to the idea that he would play football once again.

"My whole goal is to get back out there," Chubb said. "It's not the first time someone has counted me out. So, I've been here before and I'm not really paying much attention to it, but I do see it and I'm just focusing on getting better."

Even though he is not on the field in his helmet and jersey yet, Chubb is in the meeting room and spending time around his teammates during the offseason program. Since he has not played football since September 2023, Chubb said being in the meeting room allows him to be around the game, visualize the plays and turn his mind back to football.

His new running backs coach Duce Staley revels in Chubb's presence in the meeting room and on the sidelines of the field with the team.

"It's awesome," Staley said. "It starts in the classroom because he is a leader. I know he's a man of little words, but when he gets in that classroom and he gets out on the field, he's having fun and that's what we want."

Even though Staley is new to the Browns' coaching staff, his relationship with Chubb goes back to Chubb's college days. When Chubb was leaving Georgia and preparing for the NFL in 2018, Staley had the chance to work out Chubb and his then-teammate RB Sony Michel.

"Going down there and just seeing Nick go through the drills, I knew he was special," Staley said. "It was hard to get words out of him of course, but when you did get a word out of him, it was, 'yes sir, no sir.' And that was it. So just being able to work with him and being able to see him just get in this league and take this league by storm, being able to impose his will, I expect nothing less."

Over his six seasons with the Browns after he was drafted in the second round by Cleveland, he has played a critical role in the development of their run game. He's totaled 1,238 carries for 6,511 rushing yards and 48 touchdowns. He's a four-time Pro Bowler. And he's also been described as the heart and soul of the Browns.

While they wait for his return, Stefanski sees the hard work that Chubb puts in each day into his recovery. He sees Chubb in their meetings and knows the level of dedication he possesses to return to the field.

"He's a huge, huge part of our program. He's a huge part of what we do," Stefanski said. "And I get to witness him work firsthand."

Related Content