Browns running back D’Ernest Johnson capped the first start of his NFL career in style on Thursday night.
Johnson battled for eight yards on a third-and-seven with less than two minutes to play to put the finishing touches on a 17-14 win over the Broncos. The fight for yards fit for a player who went undrafted in 2018 and worked on a fishing boat until reviving his career in the Alliance of American Football in 2019. Johnson spent most of his time on special teams in his first two seasons, but injuries to Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt made him a starter in Week Seven.
Johnson scored a touchdown on the first drive of the game and ended the night with 22 carries for 146 yards, which earned him praise from head coach Kevin Stefanski after the game.
“I can single out a bunch of guys, but D’Ernest Johnson to me is just a warrior,” Stefanski said, via the team’s website. “Great teammate. What he’s fought through in his career, and then to go have a night like that and end it how he did on that third down, I thought that was just outstanding.”
Johnson said he “never lost trust in the process” on his way to the NFL and that faith paid off for him and the Browns in a major way on Thursday night.