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Browns RBs coach to ride 'hot hand' with backfield trio

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The Cleveland Browns own a crowded backfield after signing Carlos Hyde, drafting Nick Chubb in the second round and giving Duke Johnson an extension.

How the rotation shakes out will be one thing to track next month at Browns' training camp. Running backs coach Freddie Kitchens plans to ride the "hot hand" this season.

"If they are having success why would you change?" Kitchens noted, via the team's official website.

"Ultimately, all three of those guys can run our running game," the RB coach added. "Duke can do a few more things in the passing game. Ultimately, we feel like that is a position of strength. Coach [Bill] Parcells taught me a long time ago, do not turn a position of strength into a weakness. You would like to keep it a strength, and we are fortunate that is where we are."

Hyde is likely to get the first shot at the early-down role. Coming off his best season in San Francisco, Hyde impressed quarterback Tyrod Taylor with his ability as a receiver.

"I did not really know much about Carlos before he came here," the QB said. "...To see him catch the ball out of the backfield and him run routes is definitely something that was shocking to me. He looks very good at it. Looking forward to using him."

How much Hyde stays on the field will depend on whether he displays that dual-threat ability once the pads come on.

Johnson projects to earn most of the pass-catching duties. As a movable chess piece who can split out wide, offensive coordinator Todd Haley could get creative using Johnson in 2-RB sets. The matchup nightmare could benefit most from the "hot hand" approach. When Johnson gets going in both the run and pass game, he's difficult to take off the field.

The wild card is rookie Chubb. His selection suggests it could be a quick run for Hyde in Cleveland (the Browns can get out of his deal next season). Kitchens praised the rookie as a "violent" runner.

"He has a great work ethic. He is physical in everything that he does," Kitchens said "He will take a handoff, and the handoff is violent. I think that is a very unique perspective from a running back standpoint that everything he does is violent. I think that he brings that to the table."

The Browns' offense has long needed the type of violence Chubb brings. If he impresses as much when the pads come on during training camp, Chubb should siphon off snaps from Hyde. It wouldn't surprise if the rookie took on a big role by midseason.

The enticing options in the backfield underscore just how much the Browns offense has improved on paper from last season. How Kitchens and Haley utilize that rotation could define how dangerous Cleveland can be in 2018.

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