D'Ernest Johnson

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

D'Ernest Johnson News

Quietly heads to free agency

Johnson played 10 snaps on special teams and did not play on offense in Sunday's 28-14 loss to Pittsburgh in Week 18.

Analysis: Johnson finished the year with just seven touches -- four rushes and three receptions -- and heads quietly into the offseason. It was a different tale last season, after Johnson capably filled in for injured backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, rushing 100 times for 534 yards and three touchdowns. There's very little mileage on Johnson, who turns 27 in February. The Browns are expected to go with Jerome Ford as the top backup to Chubb, and Johnson likely feels ready for a bigger role than he had in 2022. Both he and Kareem Hunt are in the final year of their deals and will entertain offers from other teams.

Jan 9, 2023 7:42 PM EST

No run on offense

Johnson played 15 snaps on special teams and none on offense in Sunday's 27-14 win over Houston in Week 13.

Analysis: It's not surprising to see Johnson used on special teams only, but it was interesting that Jerome Ford got his first snaps and touches on offense. If an injury to Nick Chubb or Kareem Hunt should occur in the final weeks of the regular season, it's not a given that Johnson would get first crack at replacing either back in the rotation.

Dec 5, 2022 5:08 AM EST

Used on special teams only

Johnson did not play on offense during Sunday's 31-23 loss to Buffalo.

Analysis: Johnson's usage as a running back has decreased significantly, as both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt have stayed healthy. He popped for 534 yards (5.3 YPC) when given an opportunity in 2021, but those that speculated on him in 2022 have been disappointed.

Nov 21, 2022 5:34 AM EST

Season-high snap count

Johnson caught his lone target for minus-2 yards and did not carry the ball in Sunday's 39-17 loss to the Dolphins in Week 10.

Analysis: Johnson was on the field for a season-high 12 snaps, but there was little need for the running game once the Browns fell behind by three scores early in the third quarter.

Nov 14, 2022 5:34 AM EST

Mops up win

Johnson had four carries for 17 yards in Monday's 32-13 win over Cincinnati in Week 8.

Analysis: Johnson was given his first rushing attempts of the season, all on the game's final drive as Cleveland iced the blowout win. The Browns snapped a four-game losing streak and resuscitated their season with the victory, which may have the organization thinking about improvements for a playoff run. That means either Johnson or Kareem Hunt, both in the final year of their contracts, could be moved by Tuesday's 4:00 pm ET trade deadline. If either of those events happen, Johnson's fantasy outlook should improve.

Nov 1, 2022 5:51 AM EST

Could gain larger role soon

Johnson's role with the Browns could change as rumors pick up about the team trading Kareem Hunt before next Tuesday's 4:00 pm trade dealine, Chris Easterling of the Akron Beacon Journal reports.

Analysis: The report doesn't get into specific trade partners interested in Hunt, but Cleveland is reportedly seeking a fourth-round draft pick as a starting point for discussions. Both Johnson and Hunt are on expiring contracts, making each of them a possible trade piece. Hunt's role has dwindled the last two weeks -- a total of 10 touches Weeks 6 and 7 after averaging more than 11 per game over the first five weeks. If the Browns trade Hunt, Johnson would move up to second on the depth chart. If Johnson is traded, the team trading for him presumably would have a bigger role waiting for him. Per usual, Johnson is listed as third at running back on the Browns' unofficial depth chart and as the primary kickoff returner for Monday night's game against the Bengals.

Oct 27, 2022 4:49 AM EST

Gathers two catches in loss

Johnson caught two of two targets for nine yards in Sunday's 38-15 loss to the Patriots in Week 6.

Analysis: Johnson had his most significant contributions, but he remains a fringe player on offense. As long as Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are healthy, Johnson will play a limited role.

Oct 16, 2022 6:57 PM EST

Limited to special teams

Johnson played 15 snaps on special teams in Week 5's 30-28 loss to the Chargers.

Analysis: The Browns have kept Johnson under wrap the first five games of the season, making him inactive the first three weeks followed by mostly special-teams work (one offensive snap) in Weeks 4 and 5. And that work on special teams is not as a returner, despite Jerome Ford (ankle) being added to the injured list. Cleveland's backfile duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt have been dominant on offense, so Johnson has no clear path at this time. Either an injury to one of the top backs or a trade is Johnson's best hope.

Oct 12, 2022 5:09 AM EST

Gets one offensive snap

Johnson played one snap on offense and 17 snaps on special teams in Sunday's 23-20 loss to the Falcons in Week 4.

Analysis: Johnson, who was inactive the first two weeks, saw his first action on offense in Week 4. With Jerome Ford (ankle) hitting injured reserve, there's a chance for Johnson to handle the kickoff return duties that had been Ford's since Week 2.

Oct 4, 2022 6:49 PM EST

No offensive snaps

Johnson played 15 special-teams snaps and did not line up on offense in Thursday's 29-17 win over the Steelers in Week 3.

Analysis: Johnson was active for the first time this season, as Demetric Felton was given the night off. He has experience as a returner, but the Browns did not have him return punts or kicks, choosing to use Chester Rogers on punts and Jerome Ford or David Bell on kickoffs. It's possible the Browns don't want to expose Johnson to injury as a returner, so that he could be used as a trade chip.

Sep 23, 2022 5:33 AM EST

Suiting up Thursday

Johnson is listed as active Thursday against the Steelers, Jake Trotter of ESPN.com reports.

Analysis: For the first time this season, Johnson won't be a healthy scratch and instead will be available to the Browns offense. Still, reps will be tough to come by behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. In the seven games in which all three running backs were available last season, Johnson managed just seven touches for 38 yards from scrimmage on 28 offensive snaps.

Sep 22, 2022 4:01 PM EST

Inactive again

Johnson was inactive Week 2 against the Jets.

Analysis: Johnson opens the season with two inactive designations in the first two games. Both Demetric Felton and Jerome Ford have been active ahead of Johnson, as both have roles in the return games. With Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt healthy, having Johnson active may be seen as a luxury, but it should be noted that Johnson has return experience and could replace either Felton or Ford.

Sep 19, 2022 5:25 AM EST

Inactive against Carolina

Johnson (coach's decision) is inactive Week 1 against the Panthers.

Analysis: With Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt both healthy and set to lead the backfield in the opening week, it appears the Browns won't require the services of Johnson, who racked up 534 yards and three touchdowns on the ground a season ago. Cleveland will keep fifth-round pick Jerome Ford active as the third running back, who appears poised to do more work on special teams, such as return kicks.

Sep 11, 2022 8:37 AM EST

Backing up on kick returns

Johnson will back up Demetric Felton as the kickoff returner, Chris Easterling of the Akron Beacon Journal reports.

Analysis: Johnson returned six kicks for 139 yards in 2021, third on the team behind Anthony Schwartz and Felton. He proved to an effective back when given a chance last season, but the Browns open with the healthy tandem of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

Sep 8, 2022 3:59 PM EST

Logs 32 snaps

Johnson had seven carries for 29 yards in Saturday's preseason finale against Chicago.

Analysis: Johnson played in all three preseason games and logged his most time Saturday, getting on the field for 32 snaps. As was the case in the first two games, neither Nick Chubb nor Kareem Hunt played, as the Browns got a look at backs further down the depth chart. With quarterback Deshaun Watson set to miss the first 11 games of the season, Cleveland is expected to rely on its depth at running back. There had been speculation about trading Johnson or Hunt for a wide receiver to bolster a lack of proven options behind Amari Cooper, but the need at running back might outweigh the luxury of an additional pass catcher.

Aug 28, 2022 7:29 AM EST

Fumbles in preseason opener

Johnson rushed for no gain on three attempts and lost a fumble in Friday's 24-13 win over the Jaguars.

Analysis: Johnson got the start with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt sitting out the preseason opener, but the 26-year-old running back failed to capitalize on the opportunity. While Johnson played well when injuries cleared a starting role for him last season, his touches will likely be limited as long as Cleveland's top two backs are present and healthy, and this outing did little to bolster Johnson's case for more touches. He'll look to rebound against the Eagles on Aug. 21 in Cleveland's next preseason game.

Aug 12, 2022 7:44 PM EST

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

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