Cleveland Browns Training Camp Battle: Running Backs

Kenny CrumContributor IJuly 27, 2010

CLEVELAND - DECEMBER 27:  Jerome Harrison #35 of the Cleveland Browns runs by Tyvon Branch #33 of the Oakland Raiders at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

With Cleveland Browns training camp just four days away, I though it’d be a good time to look at the running back position.  Training camp opens up Saturday, July 31st at 8:45 and I will certainly be in attendance watching and listening to everybody’s favorite sights and sounds; Cleveland Browns football.  I will be enjoying all of the players trying to be the next “Josh Cribbs”, who is going to be that undrafted player to not only make the team but to make an impact on the upcoming season?  Today I want to focus on the running back position where there is plenty of depth and yet a bit unknown.

Starting with Jerome Harrison, who is the veteran of this young group rushed for 862 yards on 194 attempts.  People always said he was too small, which he is, standing at 5’9 weighing 210 pounds he certainly is not the biggest guy out there.  He knows how to use his size and strength to break tackles, juke out defenders, and follow his blocks like a crafty veteran.  He will likely lead this group in rushing.


Montario Hardesty is a rookie drafted out of Tennessee in the 2nd round.  Hardesty amassed 1,345 yards and 13 touchdowns with the Volunteers last year.  Unfortunately that was his best year due to being behind successful players and having a bevy of injuries plague him.  He has already had three knee surgeries in his young career.  Hardesty only rushed for 271 yards in 2008 as the backup.  Montario Hardesty has been a power back that can break tackles and attacks the hole.  Does not have that blow your mind speed but is able to beat linebackers to the outside.  Many analysts believe he will be part of a three-headed back system in Cleveland.


James Davis will be entering his second season, he is coming off a year that left him on the IR most of last season.  Davis was placed on the IR after totaling 15 yards on 9 attempts.  Davis was drafted in the 6th round out of Clemson in the 2009 draft.  James Davis is expected to be the third back and split carries with Harrison and Hardesty.


Josh Cribbs is the “flash” do-all player for the Cleveland Browns.  Last year Cribbs totaled 381 yards on the ground with an amazing 6.9 yards per attempt.  Josh Cribbs will once again look to do most of his offensive damage from the “flash” position.  This year will be more intriguing with the addition of quarterback Seneca Wallace.  Cribbs will get his share of opportunities, but the coaching staff will closely monitor his roles, making sure his return game does not suffer.


The other backs that will look to contribute are Chris Jennings and the newly acquired Peyton Hillis.  Jennings ran for 220 yards during the 2009 season.  He is a power back that likes to move the pile.  Hillis ran only 13 times for Denver last year.  Hillis is a do all player that also plays fullback and helps on special teams.  Both players will look to be a part of this deep position.


            Overall, The Cleveland Browns have a talented yet untapped group of backs that look to run over and around opposing defenses.  It should be an interesting training camp and preseason to see how Coach Eric Mangini uses these backs.  What player will be on the field in 3rd and short situations?  Will one of these players emerge as the primary back and get more reps then the others?  Only time will tell; and that time is almost here.