D’Ernest Johnson, former Orlando Apollos running back, will get his second NFL start this Sunday. Johnson has been a member of the Cleveland Browns since 2019, and has looked promising each time he’s been given the ball.
Johnson saw minimal action through his first NFL season, but started to gain traction in 2020. During a 49-38 Browns win over the Cowboys in week 4, Johnson had 95 yards on 13 carries (7.3-yard average). In week 7 of the 2021 season, he got his first career start against the Broncos. In the 17-14 win, which was broadcasted nationally for Thursday Night Football, Johnson had 22 carries for 146 yards and a touchdown. The performance earned him FedEx Ground Player of the Week honors, and gave him a more permanent role in what is still a crowded backfield.
Johnson’s first career start was a result of injuries to Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, who arguably make up the best one-two punch in the NFL. Not only are Chubb and Hunt out for his next start, but so is rookie Demetric Felton. Johnson is going up against a tough New England defense, ranked towards the top of various statistical categories. It might not be easy this time around, but Johnson has defied the odds more than once.
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