Pettine: Duke Johnson could play major role vs. Jets

Cleveland's unpredictable, committee-based backfield was a disaster last season for fantasy enthusiasts everywhere.

The Browns are hoping for a less-muddled situation in 2015 after the trade of Terrance West left the club with just two halfbacks on the roster.

With second-year thumper Isaiah Crowell ticketed for early-down work, rookie Duke Johnson was drafted to operate as a passing-down specialist -- and maybe more.

Back at practice on Wednesday after suffering a concussion last month, Johnson has been fully cleared for Sunday's opener against the New York Jets.

We expect to see plenty of the third-rounder after coach Mike Pettine told reporters that Johnson could play a "significant role" against Gang Green's nasty defensive front, per Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer.

It's what the team hoped for all along, planning to feature Johnson in a role that mirrors Cincinnati's use of Giovani Bernard.

As he grows, those duties could expand, with one NFC running backs coach telling before the draft that Johnson was the "best outside zone back in this draft and it's not close." Colts rookie wideout Phillip Dorsett played with Johnson at Miami, and also said of the runner: "He's special. God-gifted."

The reality, though, is that Johnson has barely played this summer while nursing a hamstring injury prior to the concussion. His ability to pick up the playbook, pass block and make plays against New York's Darrelle Revis-led secondary loom as a mysterious X-factor for Sunday's showdown.

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