Anthony Poisal of the Browns' official website expects RB Dontrell Hilliard to step into RB Duke Johnson's old role as "as a pass-catching running back used mostly on third down plays." Hilliard caught 9 balls for 105 yards in 11 appearances as a rookie last year and racked up 70 grabs over 4 seasons at Tulane. “Dontrell has shown some explosion in the open field,” HC Freddie Kitchens said. “He is hard to get down. Body control is a characteristic or a skillset that running backs sometimes often get overlooked. He has great body control, change of direction and great speed. I like those skillsets.” Hilliard notably caught 2 passes on QB Baker Mayfield's lone possession in Cleveland's preseason opener. We doubt that he'll play as big a role as Duke Johnson played last season (2.5 carries and 3.9 targets per game), but any pass-catching work would put a cap on RB Nick Chubb's ceiling.
The Browns have signed former Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt. It's surprising news in terms of both timing and landing spot. Hunt is still on the Commissioner's Exempt List after video was released of his February altercation with a woman inside a Cleveland hotel. It's unclear when he'll be reinstated and how long a suspension he'll garner to open the 2019 campaign. And the Browns, of course, already have RBs Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson on the roster. We'll see when Hunt is ruled eligible to return, but his addition makes Chubb a riskier pick in early fantasy drafts. We've seen him going in the late 1st and early 2nd round of FFPC best-ball drafts.
The Browns are hiring Freddie Kitchens as their HC. Kitchens took over as Cleveland's interim OC in Week 9 of this past season and immediately turned the unit around. After averaging 21.1 points and 342 total yards over the first 8 games, the Browns averaged 23.8 points and 395 yards across the last 8. QB Baker Mayfield was especially impressive under Kitchens, completing 68% of his passes, averaging 8.6 yards per attempt and tossing 19 TDs over those 8 games. This is a big step up in responsibility for Kitchens, who had never even called plays in the NFL prior to last year. But we at least like the move for the Browns offense.
The Browns have fired HC Hue Jackson, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. Finally! Jackson has compiled a 3-36-1 record in Cleveland but somehow hung around for 2-and-a-half seasons. We'll see who the Browns tab as their interim HC, but the move can be nothing but good news for the team's skill-position guys.
Update: The Browns have also fired OC Todd Haley.
Update: The Browns have named former DC Gregg Williams their interim HC and former RBs coach Freddie Kitchens their interim OC.
The Browns are trading RB Carlos Hyde to Jacksonville in exchange for a mid-round draft pick, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. This doesn't bode well for RB Leonard Fournette's return from his hamstring trouble. Hyde joins T.J. Yeldon in the Jaguars backfield for now, although it's unclear if Hyde will be active for this weekend's game against the Texans. Meanwhile, Nick Chubb takes over as the primary ball-carrier in Cleveland. The rookie has flashed in limited chances, averaging 10.8 yards on 16 carries. He immediately jumps into the RB2 mix.
UPDATE: The Browns are receiving a 5th-round pick.
Browns HC Hue Jackson suggested Tuesday that RB Nick Chubb's role will grow going forward. "He has to get some," Jackson said of the rookie. "[Carlos] Hyde is playing well, but this guy is scoring touchdowns from long ways away." Chubb turned 3 carries into 105 yards and 2 scores in Sunday's loss to the Raiders. "I was impressed," Jackson continued. "He ran away from some people on the first one and ran away from some people on the second one. It just looked natural and easy. He was gone. They could not touch him." Chubb is now averaging 14.6 yards per carry with 2 scores on 10 attempts. Hyde, meanwhile, has mustered just 3.4 yards per carry. Chubb's role certainly deserves to expand. But until we see it happen, he's just a bench stash in fantasy football.
Browns RB Nick Chubb didn't get any snaps with QB Tyrod Taylor and the 1st-team offense in Friday night's preseason game against the Bills. RB Carlos Hyde was on the field for 17 of Taylor's 25 snaps, carrying 9 times for 64 yards and a score. RB Duke Johnson played the other 8 snaps with Taylor, finishing with 27 yards on 4 carries. It's clear at this point that Hyde will open the season as Cleveland's lead back. Chubb could work his way into playing time over the course of the year but won't be an early-season fantasy option.
Browns HC Hue Jackson said Friday that he's giving OC Todd Haley "total autonomy" of the offense. He's "one of the best in the business," Jackson added of Haley. Consider this good news for all of Cleveland's skill-position guys. The Browns have ranked 31st and 32nd in points scored under Jackson the past 2 seasons. Haley arrives with 11 years of experience as a HC or OC. Eight of his squads have finished in the top half of the league in total points, including 6 top-10 finishes.
The Browns used the 35th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft on Georgia RB Nick Chubb. Chubb busted out as a true freshman back in 2014, racking up 1,547 yards and 14 TDs on 7.1 yards per carry. His 2015 was cut short in October by a catastrophic left knee injury: a torn PCL, MCL and LCL, plus cartilage damage and a dislocation. Chubb returned for 2016 but didn’t look like the same player, posting a career-low 5.0 yards per carry. He bounced back nicely this past year, carrying 223 times for 1,345 yards (6.0 YPC) and 15 TDs. Chubb proved that the knee injury is behind him by registering an 83rd percentile SPARQ score at the Combine. When healthy, this guy is as good a runner as any RB in the class. He’s mostly unproven in the passing game, though, totaling just 31 catches across 4 college seasons. Chubb won’t be doing much pass-catching in Cleveland with Duke Johnson in the same backfield. But the rookie has a good shot to beat out Carlos Hyde for lead ball-carrying duties. That’ll be a situation to monitor throughout the summer.
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