CLEVELAND — It took losing a head coach and an offensive coordinator for the Browns to find a spot for running back Duke Johnson, apparently.

The consistent question hanging over the heads of Browns offensive coaches for much of this season was how better to utilize Johnson, the fourth-year pro out of the University of Miami. Johnson can run the ball, but what makes him more dangerous is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and to line up as a receiver.

The 5-foot-9, 210-pound Johnson flashed those skills Sunday in the Browns' 37-21 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at FirstEnergy Stadium. Johnson ran the ball just once for eight yards, but rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield targeted him nine times and connected with him each time for 78 yards and two touchdowns.

In the Browns' first eight games of the season, Johnson was only targeted 29 times and had 20 catches for 235 yards, and had not scored a touchdown.

In a postgame interview on the team website, Johnson said it felt good to get into the end zone.

“As an offense we just went out there on every drive and tried to give it all we got to keep the team in the game,” Johnson said.

Left guard Joel Bitonio said there wasn’t a lot said during the week about getting Johnson more involved in the offense during practices, but it soon became evident that was part of the plan.

“But it seemed like Baker had an idea of ‘Let’s get this guy some screens, let’s get this guy some runs, quick catches, what he does best,’" Bitonio said. "He made some plays. It was big. He had big plays after big plays for us, got drives for us, got first downs, got us close.

"In the first half he got a touchdown there. He’s a playmaker. You get him the ball, he gets yards for you.”

Mayfield agreed.

“Duke made a bunch of plays for us today," Mayfield said. "Obviously he's one of our playmakers, so whenever we get a chance to get him going, that's the type of play we expect him to have. That's what he's capable of, and that's what he's shown time in and time out when you get him involved that much. So we've got to continue to build on that.”

Given the Browns struggles on offense this season, they obviously need to build on any positive, and Johnson is one of them. The game plan of new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, who was elevated from running backs coach, appeared to be developed with heavy doses of Johnson in mind.

“It was really good. It was based upon what the guys we had here that are up and ready to roll,” interim coach Gregg Williams said. “They are based towards those kinds of guys. I am sure that he will have some things that he wants to improve on and everything, but it was very organized and there was no flinching at all. He did a really good job too involving other people — from the quarterbacks and involving their processes and their ideas and their thoughts, which is good.”

Johnson said he noticed a difference in the play calling with Kitchens at the helm.

“It’s definitely a difference,” Johnson said, comparing Kitchens' plays to former offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who was fired along with former coach Hue Jackson on Oct. 29. “Freddie is calling plays freely. He’s going with what he thinks is going to work. He’s playing free. He’s not too concerned. He’s giving his playmakers the ball. We’re just trying to move forward and build off today.”

George M. Thomas can be reached at gmthomas@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Browns blog at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByGeorgeThomas.