New England Patriots

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 10: Nick Chubb #24 of the Cleveland Browns runs as he is tackled by Drue Tranquill #49 of the Los Angeles Chargers during a 49-42 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Just five days before they have to face the Patriots in Foxboro, the Cleveland Browns have a full-on COVID-19 outbreak at the running back position.

Nick Chubb is among two backs who returned positive tests for COVID on Tuesday, according ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Demetric Felton is the other. In addition, the Browns placed RB John Kelly (patient zero?) on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday.

Per Schefter, Chubb and Felton are both vaccinated, so they still have a chance to play Sunday. They’ll each need to return two negative tests at least 24 hours apart before returning to the team.

Kareem Hunt remains on injured reserve for the Browns, as of Tuesday. He’s already missed the minimum requirement of three games, but may still need more time to recover from a calf injury suffered on Oct. 17.

If Chubb, Felton, Kelly, and Hunt all can’t play Sunday against the Patriots, that would leave the Browns with only D’Ernest Johnson on the 53-man roster at running back. They also have fullback Andy Janovich, but he’s only carried the ball twice all season. Granted, one of those carries was a rushing touchdown from the 1.

The Browns, who have called the third-most running plays in the NFL this season, have shown a willingness to lean on one back in the face of injuries. Johnson rushed 22 times for 146 yards and a touchdown in the Browns’ Week 7 win over the Denver Broncos. But still, three other backs (Felton, Kelly, fullback Johnny Stanton) each got two carries as well. So Johnson almost certainly won’t be the only active running back on the Browns’ roster come Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

But they may need to look outside the organization for help.

MORE: Patriots dealing with rash of head injuries

Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.