Patriots

Browns' RB situation vs. Patriots is in rough shape, per report

Patriots

The second-best rushing team in the NFL is short on ballcarriers.

The Cleveland Browns placed running backs Nick Chubb and Demetric Felton on the COVID-19/reserve list Tuesday ahead of their Week 10 game against the New England Patriots. With John Kelly already on the COVID-19/reserve list, D'Ernest Johnson currently is the only running back on the active roster.

Cleveland attempted to remedy that situation by claiming veteran RB Royce Freeman -- but was thwarted by the Houston Texans, ESPN's Field Yates reported Wednesday.

As Yates noted, the Browns did sign Brian Hill to their practice squad. The 26-year-old spent the last three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and had 465 yards on 100 carries in 2020, so he'd likely be the backup to Johnson, who rushed for 146 yards in Week 7 with Chubb and Kareem Hunt sidelined.

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Hill is the only running back on Cleveland's practice squad, though. So, unless Chubb or Felton are cleared before Sunday -- both reportedly are vaccinated, so they'll need two negative COVID tests at least 24 hours apart to be activated -- the Browns may have to roll with Johnson and Hill unless they find another running back on waivers.

Cleveland ranks second in the NFL in rushing yards per game (160.2) and third in attempts, but Kevin Stefanski may have to alter his game plan against New England if his running back depth doesn't improve before Sunday.