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Nick Chubb shows burst, finds end zone in Browns starting debut

The news surprised Nick Chubb just like it did everyone else on the Browns roster. It just had a much more significant impact on him than anyone else.

Chubb was taken aback Friday when he learned veteran Carlos Hyde, who took the bulk of the carries through the first six weeks, was headed to Jacksonville in a trade. The shock, though, quickly transitioned into a sharpened focus. The second-round rookie knew what this meant for him.

"The business is something I'm getting used to still as a rookie," Chubb said of a trade that netted a 2019 fifth-round selection in return. "It was surprising to me and surprising to everyone. End of the day, nothing you can do about it. Just step up and play."

Chubb stepped up in the kind of way Cleveland expected. He had 18 carries for 80 yards, breaking off a handful of big gains and finding the end zone for the third time this season.

After picking up a handful of snaps here and there as the backup to Hyde, Chubb was on the field for 45 plays -- the closest he's felt to the kind of role he held at Georgia since coming to the Browns.

"It felt great," Chubb said. "Good to be out there with the team. I was asked to do a little bit more. I was happy to be out there and just play."

Those closest to Chubb felt the same way.

As the news broke Friday, Chubb, who was already out of the facility, received a text from his former college coach, Kirby Smart. Chubb was initially confused by Smart telling him his time had come because he hadn't seen the reports. After more and more texts consumed Chubb's phone, it soon came together for the second-round pick, who is averaging better than 7 yards per carry on the season thanks largely to his two long touchdown runs Week 4 in Oakland.

"A lot has to go into it. Belief in not only me, but the offensive line does a great job making it easier for a running back," Chubb said. "I still have a veteran guy in Duke Johnson helping me out. A lot of support from everyone on this team. I am just happy to be here and playing for the Cleveland Browns."

The Browns weren't struggling to run the ball with Hyde as the lead back. The Browns entered Week 7 ranked fourth in the NFL with 826 rushing yards and third with 8 rushing touchdowns.

Browns general manager John Dorsey and coach Hue Jackson talked through the trade prospect before it was executed and agreed that it was the best move for the organization. The decision came a little easier knowing the team was in good hands with Chubb and Johnson.

"We made the decision as an organization to trade him, and we did that. That was OK," Jackson said. "I thought Chubb did well. He had 18 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown. Ran hard, ran strong and did some really good things yesterday.

"I thought Chubb did well. I thought he broke tackles, ran the ball well, and did what we asked him to do that way. Along with Duke, I thought all our guys responded. I don't think we have any lingering effects from that. I think the team gets it. They understand what we are accomplishing. I talked to them about it. They get it. On we go. We had a chance to win this game and we should have done the things we needed to do to win."