The Cleveland Browns are perilously thin at running back as they get ready for Sunday's season opener against the New York Jets. Former Bronco Montee Ball could become part of the equation, especially if Duke Johnson is unable to get through a week of practice.
Ball, a second-round pick in 2013, was released by Denver on Sunday and cleared waivers. The Browns are among several teams that have expressed interest in Ball, according to Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot. Ball's stock has fallen after plummeting from starter to virtual nonfactor last season. Ball had just 172 yards on 55 carries for the Broncos in 2014.
The weekend trade of Terrance West left Cleveland with Isaiah Crowell as the team's top rusher, with Johnson the only other back on the active roster. Johnson has battled injuries throughout the summer, the latest a concussion he suffered in his only preseason action of the season. Johnson was back at practice Wednesday after passing the NFL's concussion protocol.
Head coach Mike Pettine said that Johnson could have a significant workload Sunday if he can have a good week of practice. Regardless, the Browns will likely need a third running back as insurance.
Nothing is imminent with Ball, according to Cleveland.com, meaning the Browns may end up promoting Shaun Draughn from the practice squad to backup Crowell and Johnson this Sunday.