Patriots

Browns officially without star RB for matchup with Patriots

Patriots

If the Cleveland Browns beat the New England Patriots on the ground Sunday, it will likely be D'Ernest Johnson's doing.

Browns running backs Nick Chubb and Demetric Felton are still on the COVID-19/reserve list and won't play Sunday in New England, head coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed Friday.

With John Kelly also on the COVID-19/reserve list, Johnson is the only active running back on Cleveland's roster, although it's possible the Browns call up recent signing Brian Hill from the practice squad.

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Chubb's absence is a significant blow for Cleveland: The 25-year-old ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards (721) and is the workhorse of the league's best rushing attack (160.2 yards per game). Johnson proved a capable replacement in Week 7, though, rushing for 146 yards and a score in a win over the Denver Broncos.

The Patriots also could be thin at running back Sunday; Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson both are in concussion protocol and have yet to practice this week. If neither player can suit up, Brandon Bolden and J.J. Taylor would carry the load in the ground game.

Kickoff for Patriots-Browns is set for 1 p.m. ET at Gillette Stadium.