The Browns signed running back Duke Johnson to a new four-year contract in June that seemed to project that he’d be playing a similar role on offense to the one he filled in his first three seasons.
Johnson ran the ball 259 times and caught 188 passes over that span, which works out to over nine touches a game. Over the first eight games of this season, however, Johnson never had more than six touches in a single game and averaged four fewer touches a week than he had over his first three seasons.
That usage pattern changed in the team’s first game since the firing of head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Johnson ran the ball once and caught nine passes, including two touchdowns, in the loss to the Chiefs. Interim head coach Gregg Williams said on Tuesday that he’d like to see even more in the future.
“It was good to see that with Duke,” Williams said, via the team’s website. “Just like what we have talked about with other people, I think he can do more and he will. He had a good fire about him, and he will continue to improve too. We need him to improve.”
Given the issues the Browns have had at receiver this year, it was surprising they gave Johnson so little use in the passing game. It does not appear that they will be continuing down that path the rest of the year.