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Browns' Nick Chubb taking knee rehab 'day by day,' says hit by Minkah Fitzpatrick 'part of the game'

Nick Chubb is trying to look at the bright side of things, doing so with patience and perspective.

The Cleveland Browns running back, who is attempting yet another comeback from a vicious knee injury, doesn't know exactly when he'll return to the field. He still has a long way to go in his rehabilitation. But Chubb said he's nonetheless happy with the progress he has made so far following his season-ending Week 2 injury last year.

"I'm getting better every day, taking it day by day, getting better," Chubb told media on Wednesday in his first news conference since suffering the injury last September. "Yeah, just right now, trying to get stronger.

"I like where I'm at. I'm where I need to be, I would say that. The biggest thing for me is getting better every day."

The Browns admitted as recently as late March that they weren't sure in what kind of condition Chubb might physically be over the coming months. Chubb himself admitted that it hasn't been until recently that he's been able to really crank it up.

"I was down in September," he said. "I mean, I didn't start moving really well until kinda lately. So now, it's feeling good to be able to move around."

Chubb wouldn't put a date on his return, not wanting to get ahead of himself. He's taking the proverbial day-to-day approach to coming back.

"I'm not looking too far ahead," Chubb said. "I'm just taking it day by day. It's Wednesday. I had to get better today on Wednesday. That's my whole mindset."

But Chubb did look back at the play in question that caused the injury and said he casts no bitterness or blame toward the Steelers' Minkah Fitzpatrick. Chubb said Fitzpatrick approached him on the field following the hit and said he didn't mean to hurt him.

"I don't think it was a dirty hit at all," Chubb said. "I'm not blaming (Fitzpatrick). It's part of the game."

The Browns reworked Chubb’s deal to keep him in the fold for 2024. Although his new contract is more incentive-laden and reflective of the risk that comes with having a 28-year-old back who also suffered a major knee injury in college and who has averaged 16.1 carries per game over a six-year NFL career.

Chubb enjoyed career highs in rushing attempts (302) and rushing yards (1,525) and tied his career-best touchdown mark (12) in 2022 before lasting only two games last season and being carted off the field in the second quarter of that fateful Monday night game last season. He ran for 170 yards on 28 carries and caught four passes for 21 yards over those first two contests.

The four-time Pro Bowl back admitted it was difficult "not being able to play the game with your guys" but said he's thankful that the Browns stuck with him after the devastating setback.

"Definitely a blessing," he said. "They could have just cut me dry and left me hanging, right, but they did a great job. I want to be here in Cleveland -- they know that -- so we came to a great point."

Is a Week 1 return possible? No one yet knows, but what a story it would make. It's already set to be a high-energy atmosphere at Cleveland Browns Stadium on the opening Sunday of the 2024 NFL season, hosting the Dallas Cowboys in what's expected to be Tom Brady's debut as a play-by-play analyst for FOX Sports.

Seeing Chubb run out of the tunnel before a game, whether it happens Week 1 or thereafter, might bring the house down. Browns fans love Chubb, and the feeling appears to be mutual.

"It's a blessing to play this game," he said. "You can't take it for granted because in one play, it can all be taken away. I'm just blessed to have so much support around Cleveland, the fans, my friends, family, just to keep me uplifted and keep me going."

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