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Cleveland Browns RB D'Ernest Johnson nominated for FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Week

The former undrafted free agent rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown in last week's win over the Denver Broncos.

CLEVELAND — In his first career start, D'Ernest Johnson put on a remarkable performance that is earning national recognition. On Monday, the league announced Johnson is a nominee for this week’s FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Week Award.

The honor comes after Johnson rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown in the Browns' 17-14 victory over the Denver Broncos on Thursday. The former undrafted free agent joins Nick Chubb as the second Cleveland player this season to be nominated for the award.

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Johnson's story is a remarkable one, as he once worked on a fishing boat and played in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football just to keep his NFL dreams alive. In Monday's edition of the "Locked On Browns" podcast, the 25-year-old spoke with Jeff Lloyd about his breakout game, which even earned a shoutout from LeBron James.

"I can't ask for a better opportunity than that," Johnson said. "The whole world is watching. ... I can't thank God enough, man. ... I'll always be able to cherish that."

RELATED: Who is D'Ernest Johnson? Meet the former fisherman turned Browns running back

Johnson was on the chopping block during training camp, especially after the Browns drafted Demetric Felton out of UCLA. However, two holdovers from the last coaching staff stuck up for him: running backs coach Stump Mitchell and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer.

"[Since] I first got here, they're been fighting for me to be here," Johnson told Lloyd. "I just want to give thanks to those guys for just trusting and believing in me."

Each week, FedEx nominates three running backs for their FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Week award. The additional ground nominees are:

  • New England running back Damien Harris, who rushed for 106 yards on 14 attempts (7.6 avg.) and two touchdowns in the Patriots' win over the Jets
  • Indianapolis running back Jonathan Taylor, who had 107 yards on 18 carries (5.9 avg.) and one touchdown in the Colts' win over the 49ers

The public can vote for Johnson through this Wednesday at 3 p.m. on NFL.com/FedEx, on the NFL's Twitter page, or on the NFL Mobile App. From the FedEx Air and Ground NFL Players of the Week Awards, a $2,000 donation will be made by FedEx in the names of the winning quarterback and running back. The $4,000 total donation will be given to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) for need-based scholarships to deserving students.

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