Browns GM Andrew Berry provides injury update on RB Nick Chubb

Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb still has a long road to recovery from his 2023 season-ending knee injury.

Browns general Andrew Berry refused to confirm whether or not Chubb would be ready for Week 1 of the 2024 season at the annual NFL owners’ meeting in Orlando, Florida, this week. Berry did, however, reveal that Chubb will begin the pre-football activity phase of his recovery in April.

“Honestly, it’s probably too early to really understand what he’s going to look like,” Berry said, via Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot. “He’s doing truly doing a fantastic job with the rehab and he should start to load run probably sometime this upcoming month.

“Tight now he’s strengthening his quad, he’s doing the rehab and everything, but it’s not like he’s going out and doing sprints, agility drills, stuff like that. But this month we expect that he will.”

Berry added that the team will have a much better understanding of Chubb’s timeline in late April around the 2024 NFL draft and a greater understanding of his ability to play this season in three months. However, the Browns won’t know if he can play Week 1 likely until early September.

Chubb suffered a knee dislocation with three torn ligaments on Sept. 18 in a Week 2 match with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Chubb injured the same knee as the one that ended his 2015 season at Georgia. He underwent two successful surgeries this past year — the first one soon after his injury in September and the second one in November.

Before the injury, Chubb rushed 28 times for 170 yards and no touchdowns in almost two games of work. He has 1,228 career carries for 6,511 yards and 48 touchdowns since Cleveland took Chubb in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft.

Browns running back additions not about Chubb

The Browns signed two veteran running backs this offseason to fill out their backfield — Nyheim Hines and D’Onta Foreman. Jerome Ford will also return while Kareem Hunt — who rejoined the team in 2023 soon after Chubb’s injury — remains a free agent. The decision to bring in Hines and Foreman was less about Chubb and more about Hunt and adding more bodies to the position group, Berry said.

“I wouldn’t read too much into [adding veterans] to be honest with you,” he said. “D’Onta, he really, I think has a skillset that’s probably pretty similar to how we used Kareem this past year. And then Nyheim was honestly really more for his return value and his pass game skillset.”

Foreman is a little bit bigger than Hunt size-wise and was more productive on the ground. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry while Hunt averaged 3.0 yards per carry. Hunt scored more than twice as many touchdowns, though that was more a product of his role as a goal-line back than anything.

Hines, meanwhile, is more of a scat-back who can catch passes out of the backfield and return kicks. He did that a lot for the Indianapolis Colts before being traded to the Buffalo Bills. Hines missed the entire 2023 season after an offseason jet ski accident.

Both would likely fill in behind Ford if Chubb were to miss any regular-season games.

How other NFL running backs with ACL tears have come back

No knee injury is the same and NFL running backs have had varying levels of success in their return from major lower leg surgery.

New York Jets running back Breece Hall and Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams both suffered ACL tears earlier in their 2022 seasons — Hall’s was in Week 7, while Williams’ was in Week 4.

Hall was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list but was activated before Week 1 in 2023. Williams avoided the PUP list entirely. Both played, started and saw at least 10 carries in Week 1 of this past season

A cautionary tale here, though, is Baltimore Ravens and now free-agent running back J.K. Dobbins. He tore his ACL in the 2021 preseason, missed the regular season, the first two games of the 2022 season and then six more games in 2022 after he re-aggravated a knee injury. Dobbins tore his Achilles in 2023, although that was not related to his previous knee injury.

Gus Edwards, another former Ravens running back, missed the entire 2021 season as well as the first six games of the 2022 season after he tore his ACL before the 2021 regular season.

Chubb’s recovery will be closely monitored by the Browns’ training staff considering his importance in the the team’s offense and future. The Browns plan to restructure Chubb’s contract as well, Berry said, which carries a $15.85 million cap charge for 2024. However, Berry made it clear that Chubb’s future with the team is secure.

“Maybe the easiest thing is we fully expect Nick to be here and he’s doing a great job with his recovery and everything,” Berry said. “And I meant what I said at the end of the season, I meant what I said at the combine. We do not want the injury in Pittsburgh to be his last snap as a Cleveland Brown.”

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