BEREA, Ohio — Nick Chubb prefers the shadows to the spotlight.
On a Cleveland team with no shortage of giant egos and gargantuan personalities, Chubb’s humility and modesty set him apart.
In some ways, he’s the anti-Baker Mayfield, the opposite of Odell Beckham Jr.
“That’s just who I am,’’ Chubb said earlier this week, fresh off a three-touchdown, 165-yard performance in a 40-25 win at Baltimore. “I don’t try to be this way, it just happens. I just want to play ball and win games.”
In only his second season, Chubb has quickly become one of the NFL’s best running backs. But since Day One, the second-round pick from Georgia has been a dependable, lunch-pail-to-work-type of player who embodies everything the Browns (2-2) value as an organization.
Ask coach Freddie Kitchens about Chubb, and it’s clear the 24-year-old is a favorite _ and for good reason.
“Nick, first and foremost, is an excellent individual,” Kitchens said. “He works his tail off every day he walks on the football field, walks into the weight room or walks into the classroom. You know exactly what you’re getting from Nick every time he walks out there.
“Every time the clock starts turning, you know what you’re going to get from him. After all of that, you throw in his ability, his skillset, his desire inside within to be successful and his resilient nature and chasing being good.
“I do not know what else you want in a football player.”
Chubb’s getting major attention, whether he’s seeking it or not.
He’s the reigning AFC Offensive Player of the Week following his performance against the Ravens, who had no chance of catching Chubb on an 88-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Taking a pitch from Mayfield as he ran right, Chubb saw a cavernous hole created by Cleveland’s offensive line, planted his foot turned up field. There was nothing in his way _ a green-carpet runway to the end zone and a certain touchdown.
“I did not see anyone else so I pretty much knew,” Chubb said when asked if he was confident he’d score. “It was wide open so I had a good feeling it was going to be a touchdown if I did not get caught.”
The Ravens would have needed Usain Bolt to run down Chubb, who was clocked at 21.95 mph on his sprint, the fastest speed for any player on a touchdown run this season.
About 30 yards in, Chubb shifted into a gear he first found while running track in high school (he also competed in shot put) and has further developed during strenuous offseason workouts.
Chubb’s separating speed seems unnatural for a burly, 5-foot-11, 227-pound back. The Browns have seen it before.
“He can roll. I think people underestimate his speed,” Mayfield said. “Once he gets to that second level, he’s got true breakaway speed.”
Once Mayfield saw Chubb in the daylight, Mayfield took off on his own dash and celebrated the third-longest run in team history by wind-milling his arms on his way to celebrating with his teammate in the end zone.
Chubb was stunned by Mayfield’s hustle.
“As soon as I turned around, he was the first person I saw,” Chubb said. “He was moving fast. I saw he ran 18 or 19 (mph) so he was pretty fast. That’s crazy. It surprised me a little bit.”
Mayfield joked that he can push his speedometer up a notch, and that he may need to better conserve his energy.
“Obviously, it is a lot of fun when you are scoring, but sometimes I regret running all the way,” he said. “A little bit out of breath. It is my conditioning.”
Chubb enters Monday night’s game at San Francisco fourth in the NFL with 398 yards rushing, 13 behind Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey, the league leader. True to his selfless, team-first attitude, Chubb said he’s not focused on personal stats and insists winning the rushing title is not a goal.
“If it’s meant to be, it will be,” he said. “I’m not going to force anything to happen.”
Good things happen whenever Chubb touches the ball, but it’s not like he’s going to demand more touches.
It’s just not his style.
“Quiet, hard-working, great guy,” right guard Joel Bitonio said. “He’s the guy you want to have on your football team _ the perfect guy. Always works hard. Always keeps to himself. Always gives credit to people even when he’s the guy making the plays. It’s impressive and I think it’s his upbringing and the person he is on and off the field.”
NOTES: WR Jarvis Landry remains in concussion protocol and his status for Monday remains unclear. Landry caught eight passes for a career-high 167 yards last week. ... TE David Njoku felt the hit made on him by Jets CB Nate Hairston “was a cheap shot.” Njoku went up for a high pass from Mayfield, was undercut by Hairston and came down on his head. He sustained a concussion and broke his right arm. “It was fun until I hit the ground,” said Njoku, who was placed on injured reserve. “Then it wasn’t that fun anymore. But I thank God that I’m alive. It could’ve been a lot worse.” He elected not to have surgery and is hoping to come back after sitting eight games.