BEREA—Duke Johnson is ready to go—at least he’s been cleared by the NFL to play Sunday.
Johnson has been in the NFL’s concussion protocol since being hit by Tampa Bay cornerback Mike Jenkins on an incomplete pass on Aug. 29.
“We’re not in pads, (Wednesday),” Mike Pettine said prior to Wednesday’s practice. “(Johnson’s) not going to get hit, essentially it will be tag off, but he needs the work, the actual reps of playing. He’s fully cleared to go, so it’s not a matter of having to limit him that way. When you come out of the concussion protocol, you’re either cleared or you’re not.”
Pettine said given the time Johnson has missed will factor into how much Johnson plays against the Jets, but he did say he could have a big role.
“I think if he had gone out there and taken every rep, we’d be a lot more confident in having him take more extended snaps,” Pettine said. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say it factors in there some, but if he’s cleared to go and if he has a couple of solid days of practice, there’s no reason to think he’s not going to play a significant role in the game.”
Johnson thinks he will be able to step in and play this week, if called upon.
"I think I can step right in," Johnson said after his first practice back. "I will prepare mentally (this week) and go out and take some reps in practice."
The Browns have made it no secret that they were counting heavily upon Duke Johnson in this year’s offense—whether it be as the third down back or the feature back on the early downs. However, Johnson injured his hamstring early in training camp and didn’t play in the preseason until the third game and that didn’t last long. He started and after one rushing attempt and a pass completion, he went out with the concussion injury and has been unable to practice until now.
Injury Update: The Browns issued a pre-practice injury report with 14 players on it, including OL Joe Thomas, who was given the day as a rest day.
“On the injury front, we’re very encouraged with the progress our players have made” Pettine said. “Duke (Johnson) and Pierre (Desir) have both passed the next step in the protocol and they will both be on the field practicing (Wednesday).
“Basically, all of our 53 will be able to practice, at least in some form or fashion,” he said. “Justin Gilbert is the only one we’re not sure about. It depends how he feels when he warms up.”
The complete pre-practice injury report: WR Dwayne Bowe (hamstring), DB Pierre Desir (concussion), DB Justin Gilbert (hip flexor), DB Joe Haden (hip), RB Duke Johnson (concussion), LB Christian Kirksey (groin), QB Johnny Manziel (right elbow), LB Barkevious Mingo (knee), WR Marlon Moore (rib), LB Nate Orchard (back), WR Terrelle Pryor (hamstring), OL Mitchell Schwartz (thumb), OL Joe Thomas (rest) and DB K’Waun Williams (abdominal).