Cleveland Browns' Crowded Backfield: From Jerome Harrison To James Davis

Brian DiTullioSenior Writer IAugust 23, 2010

Cleveland Browns' Crowded Backfield: From Jerome Harrison To James Davis

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    CLEVELAND - AUGUST 21:  Jerome Harrison #35 of the Cleveland Browns runs the ball against the St. Louis Rams at Cleveland Browns Stadium on August 21, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    During the offseason, Browns Team President Mike Holmgren noted at one point he wanted to have a "pile" of running backs.

    Mission accomplished.

    As the Browns head into Week Three of the preseason, their backfield is suddenly very crowded. There aren't enough roster spots for everybody, and at least one of these guys will be cleaning out their locker before Week One of the regular season.

    The first two weeks of preseason have given the coaches and front office a lot to think about, so as the first roster cut looms on Aug. 31, let's take a look at the Browns' backfield.

Jerome Harrison

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    BEREA, OH - AUGUST 04:  Jerome Harrison #35 of the Cleveland Browns runs down field during training camp at the Cleveland Browns Training and Administrative Complex on August 4, 2010 in Berea, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Jerome Harrison is the Browns' No. 1 running back going into the regular season. However, that doesn't mean the job is his for the entire season.

    Harrison never seemed to catch Head Coach Eric Mangini's eye last year, and he barely played until injuries put Jamal Lewis on the shelf for the last four games of the year, at which point Harrison simply exploded.

    Despite 286 yards in one game, Harrison has not been given a firm commitment by the Browns front office, who drafted Montario Hardesty in the second round this year.

    Harrison didn't help his cause this past week by developing fumblitis versus the Rams.

    For the right price, probably a second-round pick, it wouldn't be surprising to see Harrison traded by the end of camp if Hardesty returns this week and looks good.

    But only if Hardesty dominates.

Montario Hardesty

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    BEREA, OH - MAY 01:  Montario Hardesty #31 of the Cleveland Browns takes a hand off from Colt McCoy #12 during rookie mini camp at the Cleveland Browns Training and Administrative Complex on May 1, 2010 in Berea, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Imag
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Montario Hardesty is the guy the Browns front office traded up three spots for in the second round in this year's draft.

    Hardesty is supposed to be a punishing runner who can get a lot of yards for the Browns.

    His only problem is his history of injuries, and he has sat out all of training camp to date with a twisted knee.

    Hardesty will be on the roster one way or the other if he's healthy, but the team's investment in his future will cost someone else their job. The question is: Who?

    Don't interpret this as a knock on Hardesty, it isn't. It's an honest look at the situation.

Lawrence Vickers

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    CLEVELAND - 2009:  Lawrence Vickers of the Cleveland Browns poses for his 2009 NFL headshot at photo day in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by NFL Photos)
    NFL Photos/Getty Images

    Lawrence Vickers is the bruising fullback every head coach wants. His position on the team is secure, and whoever ends up on the roster will be glad to see Vickers as their lead blocker out of the backfield, opening up a running lane.

Peyton Hillis

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    CLEVELAND - AUGUST 21:   Peyton Hillis #40 of the Cleveland Browns runs the ball through the St. Louis Rams defense at Cleveland Browns Stadium on August 21, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    Peyton Hillis is technically the backup fullback, but he plays more like a running back.

    The Rams couldn't stop him, and it's that kind of play that makes a player invaluable to a coach. Hillis came over to the Browns in the offseason from the Broncos in a trade for Brady Quinn.

    For once, the Browns seem to have gotten the better end of the deal.

Chris Jennings

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    BEREA, OH - AUGUST 04:  Chris Jennings #34 of the Cleveland Browns tries to escape a tackle during training camp at the Cleveland Browns Training and Administrative Complex on August 4, 2010 in Berea, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Chris Jennings is listed as the official backup to Harrison at the moment on the Browns depth chart, and he performed those duties at the end of last season as well.

    Jennings has shown good speed and moves in his limited appearances on the field, so if the Browns decide to move on without Jennings, it's possible he could be traded for a low-round draft pick.

James Davis

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    CLEVELAND - AUGUST 21:  James Davis #28 of the Cleveland Browns runs by David Vobora #58 of the St. Louis Rams at Cleveland Browns Stadium on August 21, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    James Davis was a sixth-round draft pick for the Browns in 2009. He was impressive during the 2009 preseason, and many thought he would have a breakout rookie season.

    Then Davis was injured in Week One, injured again during practice a week later, and went on the shelf for the rest of the season.

    Davis can be considered one of "Mangini's Guys," since Mangini picked him, but that doesn't mean his roster spot is safe with Hillis and Hardesty locks for the roster at the moment.

    Davis has to impress the coaches in the final two preseason games to beat out Jennings for that final roster spot.