Dontrell Hilliard taking advantage of Duke Johnson’s absence

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With running back Duke Johnson having skipped the Browns’ entire offseason program, somebody had to take his place. That somebody is Dontrell Hilliard.

The Browns are pumping up Hilliard’s offseason, preferring to talk about who is at organized team activities rather than who isn’t.

“I would love to see Duke as part of the team in September,” Browns running backs coach Stump Mitchell said, via Steve Doerschuk of CantonRep.com. “I know it’s voluntary, but I would also like to see him take part in this camp. When you don’t, you give somebody an opportunity. Dontrell has done a helluva job taking advantage of the opportunity.”

Hilliard made the Browns’ roster as an undrafted rookie last year, but he played only 58 snaps on offense with no carries and nine receptions behind Carlos Hyde, Nick Chubb and Johnson.

With the Browns missing Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, Hilliard also has practiced at receiver this offseason.

“Being down some receivers, Dontrell has played some receiver, which is making him very valuable to this team,” Mitchell said. “He can do everything well. His mindset is that he belongs here.”

Kareem Hunt will miss the first half of the season while serving a suspension, and who knows what happens with Johnson. That leaves Hilliard in prime position not only to make the roster but to contribute even more than he did last season.