D'Ernest Johnson

Cleveland Browns
Running Back #0
Cleveland Browns
Running Back #0

D'Ernest Johnson News

Agrees to one-year deal

Johnson and the Browns have reached an agreement on a one-year deal worth $2.43 million, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

Analysis: Johnson was originally tendered by the Browns, which game them the ability to match any other offer he received. Without any substantial offers, the running back has ultimately opted to take the deal with Cleveland. With Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt the primary two backs in the offense, Johnson projects to again be the next-man-up should either go down with an injury. He averaged 5.34 yards per attempt on 100 carries for the team in 2021, while finding the end zone three times.

Jun 4, 2022 12:01 PM EST

To be tendered by Browns

Cleveland intends to tender Johnson at the right of first refusal number, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports.

Analysis: The Browns will have the ability to match any offer Johnson receives from another team, setting him up for a one-year contract around $2.43 million unless more offers enter the mix. Johnson showed out well last season, recording three contests with over 100 scrimmage yards, and Cleveland appears to be prioritizing keeping the backfield intact. Considering that Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt (ankle) combined to miss 12 games due to injury last year, Johnson's depth role could prove a vital one.

Mar 11, 2022 6:13 AM EST

Eclipses century mark in win

Johnson rushed 25 times for 123 yards and a touchdown and brought in his only target for 10 yards in the Browns' 21-16 win over the Bengals on Sunday.

Analysis: With nothing to play for in terms of the postseason and backup Case Keenum helming the offense, head coach Kevin Stefanski opted to give some other reserves a chance to showcase their skills and Johnson cashed in nicely on the opportunity. The talented back had already amply demonstrated his ability to serve as a legitimate lead back when called upon earlier this season, so his strong showing against a short-handed Bengals defense looking ahead to the playoffs wasn't completely surprising. Johnson finishes the season with 534 rushing yards and another 137 through the air, but with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in front of him, his path to meaningful playing time could well continue to hinge on injuries in front of him in 2022.

Jan 9, 2022 1:41 PM EST

Available for Week 18

Johnson is active for Sunday's game against the Bengals.

Analysis: Johnson was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday, and with Kareem Hunt (ankle) inactive, the stage is set for Johnson to be available to work behind Nick Chubb in the Browns' Week 18 backfield, with Demetric Felton on hand in reserve.

Jan 9, 2022 8:52 AM EST

Set to play

Johnson was activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday.

Analysis: It'll be interesting to see how critical a role Johnson will play in the team's finale Sunday given Nick Chubb carries no injury designation after being limited in practice all week due to separate ribs and chest injuries. Typical backup, Kareem Hunt, meanwhile is listed as questionable with an ankle injury that has sidelined him since Week 14. Expect more clarification on the backfield usage prior to the team's 1:00 p.m. ET kickoff.

Jan 8, 2022 8:51 AM EST

Tests positive for virus

Cleveland placed Johnson on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday after he tested positive for the virus, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

Analysis: According to Jake Trotter of ESPN.com, Johnson is vaccinated, so he'll be eligible to come off the list as soon as he's deemed asymptomatic or is able to turn in consecutive negative test results at least 24 hours apart. He should have a shot at being reinstated to the roster prior to Sunday's game against the Bengals, though he'll almost certainly miss practice time while following the NFL's COVID-19 return-to-play protocol. Even if he gets cleared to suit up in the season finale, Johnson could be in store for a small role out of the backfield if both Nick Chubb (ribs) and Kareem Hunt (ankle) are able to play through their respective injuries.

Jan 4, 2022 3:08 PM EST

More snaps than Chubb

Johnson carried five times for 13 yards and caught one of three targets for one yard in Monday's 26-14 loss to the Steelers.

Analysis: Johnson was on the field for 39 snaps, nine more than starter Nick Chubb, who was apparently banged up earlier in the contest according to head coach Kevin Stefanski, per a report from Zac Jackson of The Athletic. Chubb managed to stay in the game, but Stefanski shied away from the running attack, and quarterback Baker Mayfield paid for it in the form of nine sacks and 11 quarterback hits. If Chubb is unavailable next week or the Browns choose to rest him, Johnson will be in line for a larger load Week 18 against the Bengals.

Jan 4, 2022 5:25 AM EST

Given five touches in loss

Johnson had four carries for 58 yards and caught one of two targets for eight yards in Week 16's 24-22 loss to the Packers on Saturday.

Analysis: Johnson served as Nick Chubb's backup for the third consecutive game with Kareem Hunt sidelined by an ankle injury while on the reserve/COVID-19 list. It was the third straight game with five touches for Johnson, who has emerged as a competent backup with starter potential in his third NFL season. He'll never usurp the primary role from Chubb, but Johnson is averaging 5.5 yards per carry during his career and hasn't yet taken the number of hits that other running backs have absorbed over 47 career games.

Dec 27, 2021 6:21 AM EST

Five touches behind Chubb

Johnson rushed once for minus-2 yards and caught all four of his targets for 17 yards in Monday's 16-14 loss to the Raiders.

Analysis: Johnson was a non-factor on the ground behind workhorse Nick Chubb, who mustered 91 yards and a touchdown on 23 rushing attempts. He played a scaled-down version of the third-down back role normally occupied by the inactive Kareem Hunt, who's currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list while also dealing with an ankle injury, and Johnson actually tied Donovan Peoples-Jones for the team lead in catches. Given his role in this one, Johnson will be tough to trust in Week 16 against the Packers, even if Hunt's not ready to return.

Dec 20, 2021 6:27 PM EST

Browns-Raiders moved to Monday

Johnson and the Browns will no longer play the Raiders on Saturday, after the NFL officially rescheduled the matchup between the two teams for Monday at 5 p.m. ET.

Analysis: Due to ongoing COVID-19-related concerns within the Cleveland organization, the NFL is hopeful that by delaying the game two days, the Browns will restore enough players from the reserve/COVID-19 list to alleviate depth concerns on the roster. Since Kareem Hunt isn't in line to play Week 15 after failing to practice this week due to an ankle injury before being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday, Johnson has a clear path to the No. 2 role out of the backfield behind starter Nick Chubb.

Dec 17, 2021 4:01 PM EST

No. 2 backfield role awaits

Johnson is expected to serve as the top backup to starting running back Nick Chubb with Kareem Hunt (ankle) ruled out for Saturday's game against the Raiders, Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Analysis: Johnson had moved down to the third spot on the depth chart for the Browns' past two games following Hunt's return from injured reserve, but the former should have a clear path to the No. 2 role after the latter picked up another injury in Cleveland's Week 14 win over Baltimore. Chubb is still likely to see the majority of the snaps and touches out of the backfield, but Johnson and Hunt still managed to earn six carries and three receptions between them last week. A touch count in the high single digits or low double digits could be enough to keep Johnson on the radar in deeper PPR leagues this week.

Dec 16, 2021 1:10 PM EST

Fills in for injured Hill

Johnson has four carries for 22 yards and caught his lone target for seven yards in Sunday's 24-22 win over the Ravens.

Analysis: Johnson did not play on offense when the Browns and Ravens hooked up in Week 12 due to the availability of both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt; however, Hunt sustained an ankle injury and was limited to 13 snaps. More will be known about Hunt's status status heading into Week 15's road game against Las Vegas when the back undergoes testing. If Hunt's unable to go, Johnson will slot as the backup to Chubb.

Dec 13, 2021 3:56 AM EST

No touches in loss

Johnson played six offensive snaps and did not receive a touch or a target in Sunday's 16-10 loss to the Ravens.

Analysis: This was the first game in five weeks in which the Browns had both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt (leg) available, which put a limit on Johnson's playing time. Hunt injured his leg late and was removed from the game, which could impact Johnson's role going forward; however, Cleveland is on its bye Week 13. The next game is Week 14, a return matchup at home against the Ravens.

Nov 29, 2021 3:05 AM EST

Limited to five carries

Johnson recorded five carries for 26 yards in Sunday's 13-10 win over Detroit.

Analysis: Despite topping 150 total yards in Week 10, Johnson took a back seat in the gameplan due to the return of Nick Chubb (illness). Johnson has now seen single-digit touches in every game that Chubb has been active. Johnson's role is likely to only diminish further once Kareem Hunt (calf) is able to return from injured reserve.

Nov 21, 2021 4:18 PM EST

Likely to take back seat to Chubb

Johnson is expected to move into the No. 2 role out of the Cleveland backfield Sunday against the Lions after Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed that Nick Chubb (illness) is good to go after practicing Friday in his return from the reserve/COVID-19 list, Zac Jackson of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: After Chubb was placed on the list Nov. 9 following a positive test of the virus, Johnson stepped in to pick up his second start of the season Week 10 against New England. Though the Browns weren't competitive in a 45-7 loss, Johnson was productive with his opportunities, carrying 19 times for 99 yards and catching seven passes for 58 yards on eight targets. While Johnson has been a revelation in both of his starts, a healthy Chubb remains the Browns' unquestioned lead back, though Cleveland could be inclined to ease him back from a one-game absence with a slightly lighter workload than normal against an inferior Lions team. If that's the case, Johnson could still have some value this week as a low-end flex play in deeper leagues while Kareem Hunt (calf) remains on injured reserve.

Nov 19, 2021 10:21 AM EST

Plays well in spot start

Johnson ran for 99 yards on 19 carries while catching seven passes for 58 yards on eight targets against New England on Sunday.

Analysis: The Browns weren't very threatening in the 45-7 loss and the point gap might have led New England to play less aggressively on defense, but this is still an impressive showing for the formerly undrafted Johnson, who has thrived in both of his spot starts this year. Johnson is expected to head back to the bench against the Lions in Week 11, but by now he's given convincing reason to believe he'll play well whenever he might get the opportunity next.

Nov 14, 2021 1:28 PM EST

In line for leading role Sunday

Johnson is expected to be the Browns' No. 1 running back Sunday at New England with Nick Chubb (illness), Demetric Felton (illness) and John Kelly (illness) all on the reserve/COVID-19 list, Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Analysis: Coach Kevin Stefanski noted the trio of Chubb, Felton and Kelly will be unable to clear COVID-19 protocols in time to be available for Sunday's 1:00 p.m. ET kickoff, leaving Johnson as the sole healthy running back on the active roster. On top of that, Kareem Hunt (calf) isn't ready to return from injured reserve, so Johnson likely only will have to contend with elevated options out of the backfield such as Brian Hill and Dexter Williams. When Johnson served as Cleveland's lead runner Week 7, he churned out 168 yards from scrimmage and one TD on 24 touches.

Nov 12, 2021 11:55 AM EST

Could get another start

Johnson will make another start in the event teammate Nick Chubb (illness) isn't reinstated from the reserve/COVID-19 list before Sunday's game in New England, Scott Petrak of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram reports.

Analysis: Johnson's previous start, Week 7 against Denver, yielded 22 carries for 146 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 22 yards on 69 percent snap share, while backups Demetric Felton and John Kelly combined for just four carries and three targets. A full repeat is a lot to ask in New England, but it is a safe guess that Johnson will have a busy afternoon if Chubb doesn't end up playing. In order to suit up, Chubb needs to return negative tests on back-to-back days, after initially testing positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday morning.

Nov 10, 2021 12:12 PM EST

Touchdown streak snapped

Johnson had eight carries for 16 yards in Sunday's 41-16 win over the Bengals.

Analysis: Nick Chubb had the bulk of the carries early, before Johnson took over as Cleveland's blowout took place. It was the first time in three weeks that Johnson did not score a touchdown. He continues to fill the backup role while Kareem Hunt (calf) is sidelined on injured reserve. Hunt's three-week minimum stay on IR ended Sunday, but the Browns feel he'll need at least one more week before he's ready to play.

Nov 7, 2021 6:57 PM EST

Finds end zone against Pittsburgh

Johnson carried the ball four times for 22 yards and a touchdown and caught one of three targets for seven yards in Sunday's 15-10 loss to the Steelers.

Analysis: While Nick Chubb dominated the backfield touches in his return to action, Johnson was the only Brown to get into the end zone on a 10-yard dash in the third quarter. Kareem Hunt (calf) isn't expected to be back any time soon, so Johnson should continue to have a role for Cleveland in Week 9 against the Bengals.

Oct 31, 2021 2:47 PM EST

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