Freddie Kitchens: Do not question Duke Johnson’s professionalism

AP

The Browns have moved on from Duke Johnson, trading him to Houston on Thursday. But Browns coach Freddie Kitchens defended the running back against questions about whether Johnson’s hamstring was really hurt or more so his feelings.

Do not question Duke’s professionalism,’’ Kitchens said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Duke had a pulled hamstring. As an organization, you do not want him come back on a pulled hamstring, and [if] he pulls it again, he is out for a month.’’

Johnson’s injury had sidelined him since the third day of camp, and he recently underwent an MRI that determined he needed more rehab time.

“We were trying to get him ready for the season,’’ Kitchens said. “We weren’t trying to get him ready to play tonight. I would not question Duke’s professionalism if I were you.”

Johnson, a third-round choice in 2015, asked for a trade in February. After insisting they weren’t trading Johnson, the Browns dealt him after the Texans offered a conditional fourth-rounder in 2020 that easily could become a third-rounder. If Johnson is active for 10 games, the Browns get the higher choice, according to Cabot.

Dontrell Hilliard will replace Johnson until Kareem Hunt returns from an eight-game suspension.

“Duke was a good football player,’’ Kitchens said. “It’s hard to let good football players go, but we did what was best for the organization and the Cleveland Browns. What [General Manager] John [Dorsey] did felt like what we needed to do. It truly did. Duke was drafted in the third round, so it was a good opportunity to help us out down the road in the future. We wish Duke nothing but the best.”

Baker Mayfield, who criticized Johnson during the June minicamp, was matter of fact after the trade, saying the Browns have a “next-man-up” mentality.

9 responses to “Freddie Kitchens: Do not question Duke Johnson’s professionalism

  1. “Do not question Duke’s professionalism…I would not question Duke’s professionalism if I were you.”

    Getting a little snippy there, Freddie.

  2. Kitchens is a solid coach who’s become a hardliner in fear of messing up a relatively golden opportunity. Many people don’t know him because he came up under Arians in Arizona, but Kitchens immediately fixed the horrible personnel and playcalling decisions set forth by his predecessors. Hue Jackson basically took a .500 or better team and went 1-31 with them.

  3. Johnson was being used as a third down back and wanted the role of a feature back. That was not going to be his role in Cleveland so he asked for a trade and got his wish. We here in Cleveland wish him only the best in chasing his dream.

  4. Not a Browns fan but good for Kitchens. Take the high road, you’ve moved on as an organization and players can respect your answer. Nothing to gain but throwing him under the bus.

  5. Sticking up for one of his guys. He was the RB’s coach last season so he ought to know Johnson pretty well.

  6. Didn’t the previous head coach want to rest him a year ago around this time?
    I think so.
    Didn’t the then running backs coach (Freddie Kitchens) want him to play?
    I think so.
    Now Freddie’s in the head chair and now wants to rest the guy due to an injury.

  7. El Guapo says:
    August 9, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    Kitchens is a solid coach who’s become a hardliner in fear of messing up a relatively golden opportunity. Many people don’t know him because he came up under Arians in Arizona, but Kitchens immediately fixed the horrible personnel and playcalling decisions set forth by his predecessors. Hue Jackson basically took a .500 or better team and went 1-31 with them.

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    A. Todd Haley is who Freddie Kitchens replaced last season not Hue Jackson. Greg Williams replaced Jackson

    B. Browns were projected to go 0-16 in both 2016 and 2017 so Hue Jackson actually got 1 win out of a team expected to not get any. Not sure where you got .500 from since most of the players from those squads are either out of the league or 3rd string on the teams they’re currently playing for. Sashi Browns plan was to build the cheapest team possible to ensure high drafting. 0 coaches could win when their front offices plan was to tank. Notice once they got a real GM they were a decent kicker away from a 3-0 start last season, 5-0 if the refs don’t screw them vs the Raiders and that would have been with the same coach that went 1-31 who btw was fired when the team had a winning record in the division.

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