Browns counting on Duke Johnson to do even more this season and he’s embracing the challenge

BEREA, Ohio — It has been turbulent around these parts during Duke Johnson’s time in a Browns uniform. It was pointed out that he was drafted two general managers ago and the fourth-year running back laughed and said, “That’s crazy.”This isn’t a case of the new guy (John Dorsey) giving the previous regime’s draft pick a vote of confidence. This is the new guy giving a pick from two regimes ago his second contract. It helps that said pick scored more than a quarter of the team’s touchdowns last season.”That’s a good sign on my part,” Johnson said. “I’ve been going out each year and doing my job, whatever that may be at the time and proving to the organization that I’m a consistent guy that’s going to give you his all game in and game out.”Head coach Hue Jackson said it’s great to have Johnson, who he called one the Browns’ best playmakers, in the fold for years to come.”Duke’s done some great things for our offensive football team and we expect him to do even more this year,” Jackson said.Johnson’s first two seasons in the league were a bit of a mystery. Picked in the third round in 2015, he never fully established himself as either a runner or a pass catcher. He had some success in both areas, but never to the level some hoped. He scored just three touchdowns in his first two seasons.Last season, Johnson blossomed into an all-around weapon, lining up in the backfield, in the slot and even on the outside. He carried the ball 82 times and scored four touchdowns on the ground. He caught a career-high 74 passes and scored three more times through the air. When all was said and done, he racked up a career-high 1,041 all-purpose yards. The only real complaint was ball security. Johnson fumbled four times.”I’m still trying to find that groove but last year was definitely a good start,” Johnson said. “Trying to figure out what I want to be in this league and what kind of player and, moving forward, last year is just something I can build on.”Building on last season is why the Browns made Johnson a top-10 running back in terms of salary in 2018. Jackson said that he expects him to do even more this season.”He gives you that versatility to where you can put Duke a lot of different places and I think he likes that,” Jackson said. “I think he relishes that opportunity to be all over the field and create mismatches.”