All three players were placed on the COVID-19 list during the week, and while there was some hope that at least one of them would be eligible to play if they could have two negative tests 24 hours apart, it is obvious that will not happen by the league-mandated deadline of Saturday at 4 p.m.
RBs Nick Chubb and Demetric Felton won't be available Sunday, Stefanski says.— Andrew Gribble (@Andrew_Gribble) November 12, 2021
Losing Chubb is a big blow as he is coming off a game where he ran for 137 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Cincinnati Bengals. He is currently third in the league with 721 rushing yards, has a team-high six rushing touchdowns, and is second in the league with an average of six yards per carry.
With Chubb out, the Browns will once again turn to D’Ernest Johnson as the starter, and will call up either Brian Hill or Dexter Williams from the practice squad, all part of the “next man up” philosophy the team has grown accustomed to, head coach Kevin Stefanski said in a team-provided transcript:
“I think it is really any position you can look at and say you are going to get into your depth at some point in the season because that is the nature of this beast. It is the next man up mentality. The guys have proven to do that over the course of this season and last season. Whoever is available to us, that is who we will use.”
The last time the Browns found themselves in a similar predicament, Johnson answered the call by rushing for 146 yards and a touchdown in the Week 7 victory against the Denver Broncos.
When asked about the possibility of having to take on another spot start, Johnson said his focus is on helping to bring home another victory, according to a team-provided transcript:
“I am just ready to go out there and just try to go 1-0 this week. That is our main focus is just going 1-0. When I get the opportunity, just try to make the most of them.”
The Browns signed the 6-foot-1 and 216-pound Hill to the practice squad on Tuesday. A fifth-round selection by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2017 NFL Draft, he spent a short time as a rookie with the Falcons before the Cincinnati Bengals signed him off of Atlanta’s practice squad.
Hill did not make much of an impression on the Bengals, appearing in just six games and carrying the ball 11 times, and he returned to Atlanta in 2018. He played three seasons with the Falcons, rushing for 945 yards with three touchdowns and averaging 4.8 yards per carry while playing in 38 games.
The 5-foot-11 and 210-pound Williams was signed to the practice squad on Wednesday. He spent two seasons with the Green Bay Packers after being selected in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He has seven career carries for 19 yards, and has also spent time on the practice squad with Green Bay and the New York Giants.