BEREA, Ohio -- Isaiah Crowell is clearly at the top of the Cleveland Browns’ depth chart at running back, but there is still plenty of competition for carries between Matthew Dayes and Duke Johnson Jr. during training camp.
Having a deep corps of running backs is something the Browns tried to build in past seasons, but as training camp rolls on, a competition between Dayes and Johnson is something to keep an eye at for Monday’s session.
“We want to run the ball,” Browns left guard Joel Bitonio said. “That is part of our IQ. We have some big guys up front. We brought some new guys in.
“I think that is the goal of any team. A lot of people talk about running the ball, running the ball. We have to make that statement. We have to make him (Hue Jackson) trust us to run the ball. If we are not getting four or five yards on a carry, then it is going to be hard for him to keep calling runs.”
The Browns selected Dayes, a former North Carolina State running back, in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
In his four years with the Wolfpack, the 5-foot-9, 205-pound Dayes rushed for 2,856 yards and 34 touchdowns on 550 carries. Additionally, Dayes caught 98 passes out of the backfield for 933 yards and six touchdowns.
During his senior season in 2016, Dayes turned 249 carries into 1,166 yards and 10 touchdowns. Also, he caught 32 passes for 267 yards. The carries, yards and passes caught set or matched new single-season personal career highs.
“I like that. He has a chip on his shoulder,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “I think the kid does. I think he is disappointed in that way that he didn’t get picked earlier, but he is demonstrating out here on the field the talent that he has. He has had a great camp so far.”
In addition to Dayes, the Browns are going to utilize the skills of the 5-foot-9, 210-pound Johnson.
In two years out of the University of Miami (Florida), Johnson has rushed for 737 yards and one touchdown on 177 carries, as well as turned 114 catches into 1,048 yards and two scores.
“He is doing sensationally,” Jackson said. “We ask a lot of Duke. Duke is doing a lot of things for us. He is a terrific football player. Glad he is a part of our organization and team. He is very valuable to what we do.
“He is just doing everything, honestly. He can catch out of the backfield. He runs the ball. We line him up in different places where we can get an advantage with him. He is a weapon for us. We are just trying to use him as much as we can, and we do. He has to bounce around to a lot of different rooms. That is why I said we ask a lot of him. He has responded well.”
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