In an otherwise lost season, the Cleveland Browns can relish in the fact that they found a legitimate playmaker. He just has to see the field more often.
Dual-threat running back Duke Johnson is on pace for a career-high in yards from scrimmage, rushing yards, receiving yards, targets and receptions. He is Cleveland's second-leading rusher (46 attempts) and leads the team in receiving targets (60). In the Browns' loss to Jacksonville last week, he scored Cleveland's only touchdown on a streak up the middle of the field.
Johnson is what the future in Cleveland should look like: A young, versatile scorer. So why did he only see 27 snaps against the Jaguars after earning a season-high 16 touches the week prior?
"He plays a lot. Sometimes he plays more than the starter because of the two-minute, the situational football aspect of it, and sometimes he doesn't," running backs coach Kirby Wilson explained Friday. "Last week, it fell into that call of we just didn't have a lot of offensive snaps early on. We didn't have a lot of conversions on third downs, which leads to more opportunities.
"We would like him on the field as much as possible in all situations because we believe in him as a player and a playmaker. So that's up to us as coaches and me in particular to make sure that he's always involved and always has a role in being out on the field at all times or as much as possible."
If Cleveland is to avoid an 0-16 season, and build for the future at the same time, it would be right to have Johnson shoulder the load, from here on out.