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PFF highlights Duke Johnson as a “secret superstar”

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Fourth-year running back continues to impress, especially in the passing game.

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Focus has named Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson one of its “secret superstars on offense” for the 2018 season.

Johnson, who is entering his fourth season with the Browns, was singled out for his production in the passing game:

With the additions of Carlos Hyde in free agency and Nick Chubb in the second round of the draft, there appears to be many forgetting about the significant talents of Johnson. Although he ranks at an above-average 25th among running backs as a runner (70.7 rush grade) it’s his play as a receiver that makes him so valuable. He ranked fourth by grade (89.4 receiving grade) and fourth in yards per route run (2.05) despite some of the worst quarterback play in the NFL so expect to see him become a key component of a Browns offense revitalized by their new signal-callers.

Johnson may be a “secret” to the rest of the NFL, but Browns fans are familiar with his work.

Despite not receiving much work in the running game, Johnson has averaged a respectable 4.2 yards per carry and is also the possessor of one of the game’s best stiff arms. It is in the passing game, as PFF points out, where Johnson makes his mark.

He set a franchise record for receptions by a running back with 74 in 2017, breaking Greg Pruitt’s 36-year old mark of 65 receptions. Johnson is also reliable, as he has caught 78 percent of the passes thrown his way in the NFL and has never missed a game.

Johnson has not seen much action so far in the preseason - no receptions and just five rushes for 30 yards - but with the Browns playing their third preseason game tonight, considered the “most important” one of the preseason, the team may be ready to showcase more of their secret superstar against the Philadelphia Eagles.