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Duke Johnson: 3 things to know about the new Buffalo Bills running back

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It didn’t take long for Brandon Beane to change after JD McKissic left the Buffalo Bills at the altar last week when he reneged on the free-agent deal he made to become the team’s third running back.

With McKissic returning to Washington, Beane went ahead and signed Duke Johnson to a one-year deal worth $1.27 million.

McKissic was clearly a player the Bills were targeting to give them more production from the backfield in the passing game, but the Commanders lured him back once they learned what the Bills were offering and gave him the same two-year, $7 deal. millions to stay. place.

In a rare display of anger toward another team, Beane called out the commanders for their handling of the situation, but he didn’t let that stop him from upgrading Buffalo’s backroom with the 28-year-old Johnson.

Here are three things to know about Johnson:

1. Duke Johnson had a great college career in Miami

Running back Duke Johnson, shown making a play against the Bills in the 2019 playoffs, will join Buffalo on a one-year deal.

The Browns made Johnson their third-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft based on a stellar resume he put together while playing for the Hurricanes.

Johnson appeared in 33 games in Miami and rushed for 3,519 yards and 26 TDs averaging 6.7 yards per attempt. He also caught 69 passes for 719 yards, and that was the role the Browns were most interested in him filling.

Cleveland used him extensively as a pass-catching option during his four seasons there and he caught 235 passes for 2,170 yards and eight touchdowns, with 105 of his receptions resulting in first downs.

Plus: Jamison Crowder: 3 things to know about the Buffalo Bills’ new slot catcher

2. Production has dropped in its last three seasons

Johnson was traded by the Browns to the Texans shortly before the start of the 2019 season, one season after a three-year contract extension he had signed in 2018.

On a Houston team with quarterback DeShaun Watson and wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller and Kenny Stills, Johnson didn’t get the same number of targets he did in Cleveland. Still, he caught 44 passes for 410 yards in his first season and in that year’s playoffs, he had three receptions for 30 yards in the Texans’ win over the Bills.

In 2020 he battled injury and caught a career-low 28 passes for 249 yards.

He spent the first half of the 2021 season in the Urban Meyer fiasco that was the Jacksonville Jaguars and never made it to a game. Ultimately, the Dolphins dropped him from the practice squad and he broke into their lineup in the final month of the season.

During that time he had the first two 100-yard rushing games of his career, though Miami did not use him as a pass catcher and had only four receptions.

3. What will your role be with the Buffalo Bills?

The one piece Josh Allen has never had during his time with the Bills is a legitimate weapon off the field. Devin Singletary can get the job done, but catching passes isn’t his forte.

And previous third-down running backs, TJ Yeldon and Matt Breida, never got former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s chance to get on the field and make plays. Breida played just 81 offensive snaps in 2021, while Yeldon played a total of 192 over two seasons.

Given their interest in McKissic, and now Johnson, it appears that under new OC Ken Dorsey, the Bills want a player to replace Singletary on the pass and those instant counts should increase.

Sal Maiorana can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @salmaiorana.

This article originally appeared on the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Duke Johnson: 3 things to know about the new Buffalo Bills running back

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