Kitchens was in the right place at the right time, because Johnson was in severe need of one after a rough day that included harsh words from his teammates and sloppy play on the field.
One of the first headlines to come out of the first day of mandatory camp for the Browns was that Johnson was standing by his trade request he issued this offseason.
Johnson — a third down specialist and lethal pass-catcher for the Browns — requested the trade after Kareem Hunt was picked up in the offseason, seeing his role in the offensive shrinking to an insignificant size.
Baker Mayfield wasn’t having the distraction and was more focused on the “what have you done for me lately” angle.
“I get it, Duke has been here for years, and I respect that,” Mayfield said. “But it’s about what you’re doing right now and what we’re going to do. The past is the past. … You’re either on this train or you’re not.”
Knowing one of your guys wants out has to be a little weird for the locker room, right? Baker didn’t think so.
“It’s not awkward. It’s self-inflicted,” Mayfield said. “I hope he does his job.”
“If someone wants to be here, they’ll be here,” Mayfield added. “You got guys in our locker room that are dying to get playing time and dying to be here. Duke has been here for years but it’s about what are you doing right now.”
“He wants to be traded,” Kitchens said via Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network. “I want to win the lottery. It doesn’t matter. He’s under contract. He’s a Cleveland Brown he’s going to be used to the best of his ability in what benefits the team.”
Last season, Johnson had 40 carries for 201 yards to go with 47 receptions for 429 yards and three touchdowns, a little down from previous year partly thanks to the emergence of Nick Chubb. In his three previous seasons with the Browns, he had over 500 yards receiving, earning him a reputation as a lethal target out of the backfield.
Hunt will be a nice piece for the Browns but is suspended the first half of the season. Johnson is No. 2 on the depth chart and would have a key role if he stuck around — at least for the first eight games.
But what didn’t help Johnson’s cause on Tuesday was some sloppy play. According to ClevelandBrowns.com, Johnson dropped a pair of passes, including one that hit him right in his face mask. He did have a touchdown run during the practice session.
If Johnson doesn’t step up his game, he might have some competition.