BEREA — The Browns have regained their attack’s powerful engine.
Nick Chubb’s Run Back was activated Friday from the Reserve/COVID-19 roster, and the two-time Pro Bowl roster will play when the Browns (5-5) face the Detroit Lions (0-8-1) in FirstEnergy on Sunday Stage .
“It’s great to have number 24 back,” Browns All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett said after Friday’s practice. “I mean, he’s the man, one of the best in the league and a great guy in the locker room.”
The Browns announced the move involving Chubb on Friday morning, along with the activation of rookie running back/wide receiver Demetric Felton from the same list. Like Chubb, Felton will be active against the Lions.
Chubb and Felton each tested positive for a breakthrough case of COVID-19 on Nov. 9 and missed Sunday’s 45-7 loss to the New England Patriots. Both players returned to training on Friday.
“I didn’t really have any symptoms,” Chubb said after the workout. “I may have felt bad one day, but otherwise I felt great.
“[Last week was] rather boring. I haven’t really done anything. Just hanging out at home.”
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski noted that Chubb has “fresh legs” and “physically he looks good.” Stefanski did not say he would put the player back on a pitch count in his first game.
“I think we’ll take it into account,” Stefanski said, “but I don’t have a song in mind at the moment.
“His teammates were excited to see him [back]. Nick is very important to what we do and who we are.”
Chubb said he feels like himself and is prepared for a full workload against the Lions.
“I’m ready for anything,” he said.
The temperature at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus was 36 degrees during Friday’s practice, but Chubb wore shorts without long sleeves under his jersey.
“It’s great to see him here, especially without sleeves. He doesn’t care about this cold,” Garrett said.
While on stage outside for an interview, Chubb admitted that he was suffering from the cold.
“It’s killing me now,” he said. “I’ve stopped moving now. Now I feel it.
“I like to practice how I play, so I don’t wear anything in the game, so that’s what I like to wear in practice.”
According to the weather forecast, the weather will be cold and rainy for Sunday’s game.
“This team, they will try to lead this offense through Chubb,” Lions coach Dan Campbell told Detroit reporters on Friday. “He’s a special player. If there’s such a thing as being undervalued, he might be one of these underrated fullbacks in the league. You could say he’s the best or the best two or something. He’s a special defender. We know that they say “I’m going to give him the ball. He will carry a burden. They will be committed to it, especially in the conditions we are preparing for.”
“If we don’t have a population around football with this guy, or we don’t try to wrap up and buy some time for our teammates to get there, this guy will make you look bad. But we understand that too. Our defense knows that.”
Stefanski ruled out the Browns’ other star, Kareem Hunt, earlier in the week. Hunt remains on the injured reserve and will miss his fifth straight game on Sunday with a calf injury, meaning the No. 3 runner-up D’Ernest Johnson should still have a substantial role to play against the Lions.
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Chubb, however, is the Browns’ best player on offense. In seven games this season, he has racked up 120 carries for 721 yards (6 average) and six touchdowns to go along with eight catches for 69 yards. Like Hunt, Chubb suffered a calf injury earlier this season. Chubb missed two games with the calf injury and one more because of COVID-19.
Felton, a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft, is a running back, receiver and return man. He has three carries this season for 16 yards (5.3 average), 13 catches on 14 goals for 147 yards and a touchdown, 26 punt returns for 218 yards (8.4 average), and four kickoff returns for 65 yards (16.3 average ).
“He will be fine to play. He will also catch punts there, as you can see, until it gets dark,” Stefanski said of Felton, who caught punts after practice.
The Browns need all the help they can get on Sunday as a loss to the winless Lions would be the death knell for Cleveland’s diminutive playoff hopes.
Chubb said it was hard to watch the Browns get blown away by the Patriots.
“Seeing my team there and not having things go our way was hard for me to watch,” Chubb said. “But it’s a new week, a new chance. We still have everything ahead of us. We have to get out of here, have had a great training and have to keep moving forward.”
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Nate Ulrich can be reached at [email protected].