Undrafted running back D’Ernest Johnson first had to find the determination off the field in order to find a role on it.
Prior to joining the Browns in 2018, Johnson had DM’d every team in the Alliance of American Football, asking for a tryout following a failed mini camp with the New Orleans Saints. When he eventually joined the Orlando Apollos, Johnson put up 592 yards of total offense in just eight games, which more than justified his online efforts. The Cleveland Browns took notice.
On Thursday against the Denver Broncos, the interim Browns starting running back was inserted into the game plan after injuries sidelined Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the league’s most skilled tandem.
Johnson’s TNF debut not only gave the Browns’ backfield a new threat to the formidable committee, it also provided Johnson new prospects as a full-time NFL starter. He put up the stats to back a larger role, rushing 22 times for 146 rushing yards and a touchdown, and his team ultimately beat the Denver Broncos 17-14.
Though the 3-4 Broncos aren’t quite in the top tier of NFL teams, their run defense has been solid all season. They boast the seventh fewest yards per attempt total in the league (4.1).
Johnson’s overall can-do attitude seems to be working in his favor. His next opportunity to start will be one worth watching.
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela