Nick Chubb knee injury: Monday night, the Cleveland Browns suffered a major setback when star running back Nick Chubb was forced to exit the field with a knee injury. Due to the severity of the injury, the television broadcast refused to air a replay, highlighting the gravity of the situation. While the precise timetable for Chubb’s return remains unknown, it is anticipated that he will require a lengthy recovery period, keeping him out of NFL action for the foreseeable future.
As one of the league’s best running backs, Chubb’s absence presents a formidable obstacle for the Browns. While the team may investigate market options, such as the possible return of Kareem Hunt, the onus is currently on the backup running backs to fill the void left by Chubb’s absence.
A fifth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, second-year running back Jerome Ford is one of the Browns’ immediate options. In the Browns’ Week 1 victory over the Steelers, Ford virtually split carries with Chubb despite having limited opportunities as a rookie. Ford’s 15 carries in that game demonstrated his ability to play as a primary back. However, he has not yet recorded a reception in the NFL, leaving an opportunity for his versatility to develop.
Ford’s NFL experience may be limited, and his yards-per-carry average raises some concerns (2.1), but the coaching staff, particularly Offensive Coordinator Alex Van Pelt, has shown confidence in him.
Pierre Strong Jr.: A Potential Challenger
The New England Patriots selected Pierre Strong Jr. in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, and he now occupies the second position on the depth chart. Strong made his impact as a rookie by playing in 10 games for the Patriots and accumulating 100 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. In addition, he exhibited his receiving skills by catching each of his seven targets for 42 yards.
Strong has a slight advantage over Ford in terms of limited NFL experience. Strong may emerge as a viable option to share the burden in Chubb’s absence if Ford encounters difficulties in his new position.
The Kareem Hunt Factor
The fact that Kareem Hunt, formerly of the Browns, is presently a free agent adds to the intrigue. During his time with the Browns, Hunt has established himself as one of the league’s finest change-of-pace and goal-line running backs. Given the circumstances, Cleveland could be the optimal destination for Hunt to revitalize his career and earn significant playing time.
Hunt’s familiarity with the playbook and system of the Browns could make him the ideal candidate for the position. If the Browns can convince Hunt to return, he could be the missing element to help offset Nick Chubb’s departure.
Former first-round pick Leonard Fournette became available during the offseason after his release from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Fournette displayed his abilities by rushing for 668 yards and earning three touchdowns during the 2022 season.
Fournette is renowned for his powerful running style and ability to acquire yards after contact. In 2022, he caught 73 receptions out of the backfield, which demonstrates his versatility. Fournette’s experience and versatility could make him a valuable addition to the offensive lineup for the Browns.
Trade for Jonathan Taylor
An audacious move for the Browns could involve pursuing a trade for Jonathan Taylor of the Indianapolis Colts. Taylor is presently on the PUP list for the Colts and has not played in 2023.
Taylor, who rushed for 860 yards and four touchdowns in 2022, is regarded as one of the league’s most promising rookie running backs. It would likely require a substantial investment, such as draft choices or other assets, for the Browns to acquire Taylor via trade, making it a risky but potentially lucrative move.
James Robinson is a free agent after being released by the New York Giants. Robinson had a sluggish season in 2022, gaining 425 yards on 110 carries in 11 games.
He is renowned for his patient running style, which allows him to locate holes in the defense and avoid being tackled. Robinson is a dual-threat option due to his 11 receptions in 2022, demonstrating his receiving prowess. His ability to contribute as both a runner and a receiver could be extremely beneficial to the Browns.