BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine's feelings about his running back situation were more than evident Tuesday.
Pettine expressed strong frustration when he discussed the hamstring problem that has sidelined rookie Duke Johnson.
The Browns have not specified any timetable for Johnson, but NFL Network’s Albert Breer reported via Twitter that Johnson could miss at least two more weeks.
If Johnson misses that amount of time, he would miss Friday’s scrimmage at Ohio State and the preseason opener Aug. 13 against Washington. It would also make his status for the second preseason game against Buffalo very iffy.
“It’s just disappointing that a guy that we’re counting on to be a big part of what we do, to lose him at this formative time of what we’re getting done, that’s tough,” Pettine said. “He’ll have a lot of catch-up work to do.
“We’re making sure he gets all of those reps mentally. But there’s no substitute for actual live reps.”
Pettine clearly was voicing the concern the team feels. The Browns liked what they saw in Johnson in the offseason and had plans to work him into the offense in a hurry.
Johnson’s pass-catching ability and his quickness bring a different feel to the offense.
The work on getting those plays in and practiced takes place now, and rookies who fall behind sometimes see the effects of injury leak into the season.
Clearly Pettine is concerned about that possibility -- and about the reality that Johnson will miss a lot of practice reps.
“It is (frustrating) because you have to practice it,” Pettine said. “It’s hard when the lineup is constantly being churned like the way it is. You want to be able to settle in at some point during camp.
“That’s important because those guys are all young. They need their reps. When they’re not out there, that is a source of frustration."
A hamstring injury also kept Johnson from doing some of his running at the NFL combine in February. There, he ran the 40 in 4.54 seconds, a time considered disappointing.
He did run at his pro day at the University of Miami and twice ran 4.47.
Pettine said this hamstring issue is not the same as the one that bothered Johnson at the combine.