The Cleveland Browns open up Training Camp later this month, July 30th, and fans, media and players alike are excited. Training Camp is the culumanation of the off-season. It is the time that hope turns starts to turn into product.
Free agents, trade acquisitions and draft picks get started fully as Browns players while returning players get a chance to show that they have built on the previous year. In Training Camp, players get to show off a bit as fans and media get to imagine all the "What If" possibilities for the team. Some have already decided to throw in the towel on this season while others, noticeably in the minority this year, are predicting Playoffs.
That is the fun of Training Camp. Every year the hope builds until the Pre-Season games start. And every year, it seems, the Browns have a Training Camp star that seems to come out of nowhere to enthrall the fans and media in attendance.
What those players have in common are impressive physical attributes. Their physical abilities, specifically their speed or quickness, fits very well in the Training Camp atmosphere where tackling, and overall physicality, is very limited.
Duke Johnson is the player that I predict will be that breakdown star, the media and fan darling of Training Camp. Different than the names listed above, I predict Johnson will be far more than just a Camp star. Instead, 2015's Training Camp will be the start of an impressive career.
Johnson will benefit from the ability to make plays in space starting late this month. Johnson is a player that the team wants to get in to space, something that will be prevalent throughout camp. His ability to put his foot in the ground, and space between himself and defenders, will be impressive.
Johnson will get a chance to make his impact, and wow the crowd, in both the run and pass games. Johnson's ability to be decisive and get downhill, is perfectly suited from the Browns Zone Blocking Scheme. Johnson played in a similar system in college at Miami. He noted his comfort with the scheme to the Dallas News, which the Cowboys run as well, prior to the NFL Draft:
“In college, we ran the same outside zone scheme, so I’m kind of familiar with it,” Johnson said on NFL Network. “I can run it, basically, in my sleep. I ran it so much in high school and I also ran it a lot in college. I think that system fits me well.”
His production in 2014 says he is correct: 242 carries, 1,652 yards, 6.8 average and 10 TDs.
Johnson will also be someone who should help the Browns' passing game. He showed great hands with 38 receptions for 421 yards and 3 more TDs as a pass catcher. The Browns didn't use their backs as receivers much last year but new OC John DeFilippo has plans to change that. Expect to see Duke taking screen passes, with an athletic offensive line in front of him, swing passes and dump offs the distance early in Training Camp.
Duke Johnson, the electric 3rd Round Running Back out of Miami of Florida, is bound to be a breakout star for the Cleveland Browns in Training Camp. I know I'm excited, how about you?