Browns Tried To Claim RB Royce Freeman

Ahead of a key AFC matchup, the Browns have run into extensive trouble at running back. They attempted to aid a shorthanded group by putting in a waiver claim for Royce Freeman, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. But the Texans’ waiver priority prevented such a move.

In reuniting the Freeman-Phillip Lindsay tandem from Denver, Houston (1-8) stopped Cleveland (5-4) from bolstering a backfield missing not just its top two cogs but down backups as well. Going into Sunday’s game against the Patriots, the Browns have only D’Ernest Johnson on their active roster.

Nick Chubb tested positive for COVID-19 this week. So did fellow backs Demetric Felton and John Kelly. These three are part of a five-man Browns contingent on the team’s coronavirus list. Chubb is vaccinated, so he still has a chance to play Sunday. While he would need only to test negative twice in a two-day period, players who have tested positive during the week have almost unanimously not played in their respective team’s upcoming game.

Kareem Hunt remains on IR, and Kevin Stefanski said this will not be the week he returns from IR. Hunt could be down until December, per ESPN.com’s Kimberley Martin (on Twitter), adding the fifth-year running back likely will not be 100% again this season due to the knee and wrist injuries he was battling before the October calf issue sent him to IR. The Browns have not started Hunt’s 21-day IR-return clock.

The Browns now have Brian Hill and Dexter Williams on their practice squad. One of the two will be in line to serve as Johnson’s primary backup against New England. In Johnson’s lone other start, against the Broncos, he totaled 146 rushing yards on 22 carries.

As for Freeman, the Panthers gave him 21 totes this season before cutting him once Christian McCaffrey returned. Freeman has 77 rushing yards and no touchdowns; the former third-round pick has not scored a TD since 2019. Nevertheless, the Oregon alum has been a popular player on the wire. The Ravens and Raiders tried to claim Freeman in August, following his Broncos departure, and the Browns came up short during Freeman’s second waiver go-round.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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