Backup plan: Hunt set to carry load for Browns without Chubb
CLEVELAND (AP) - Losing a star running back for multiple games by Nick Chubb's caliber would devastate most teams - maybe not the Cleveland Browns.
You have the perfect backup.
Kareem Hunt is next.
With Chubb expected to miss at least three weeks - and likely more - with a sprained right knee ligament sustained in Sunday's win against the Dallas Cowboys, Hunt, a former NFL rushing champion with Kansas City, whose career is after Some serious failures got out of hand - field problems, Cleveland's main backbone will be.
He strives to carry the cargo.
"I'm ready to do whatever I can to help the team win," said Hunt on Wednesday. "If that means getting more carrier, I'll be fine with it. We have to fill some big shoes."
The fellow Hunt and Cleveland defenders - D'Ernest Johnson ran for a team high of 95 yards - more than made up for a sluggish Sunday after Chubb fell in the first quarter when the Browns shot out 307 yards against an overmatched Dallas defense.
After four games, the Browns (3-1), who had their best start in 19 years, are leading the league with 818 yards of rushing and eight touchdowns. Chubb accounted for 335 so this type of production will be difficult to sustain and it will be a much tougher challenge against the Indianapolis Colts and their senior defenses this week.
"That's the fun part in this business," said Brown coach Kevin Stefanski. “We completely understand what it's about. We totally understand the team we're gearing up for here on Sunday because you just turn the tape on and it's so obvious why they're good. They fly around and are physical. "
Despite playing with a groin injury last week that limited his training time, Hunt scored two TDs against the Cowboys and ran 71 yards on just 11 attempts, a number that could double this week depending on Stefanski's schedule.
It could be a running back-by-committee approach, and that would be good for Hunt, who has faith in Johnson and Dontrelle Hilliard.
"I think I can take on the workload, but honestly it's not bad because I trust these other guys, Dontrell and D'Ernest, too," said Hunt, who was limited in practice. "If I ever need a break, I know they'll come in and do a great job."
Trust. This is something Hunt had to work on, and Chubb's injury gave him another chance to put some distance to his past.
The 25-year-old Cleveland native only played eight games last season after being banned from eight games over two fierce arguments, including the infamous one in which he pushed and kicked a woman during an argument on a videotape in 2018. The chiefs cut him.
Hunt paid his dues with the league, played well for Cleveland in 2019, but then found himself in a different mess when he was stopped for speeding this winter and police found a small amount of marijuana and alcohol in his car.
The Browns warned him to clean up his act, and Hunt did just that. He spent several months in Florida during the pandemic with former Cleveland defense attorney Ernest Byner, and he returned more mature, engaged, and focused.
He has given some thought, has grown up, and the Browns believe in him so much that they recently gave him a two-year $ 13.25 million contract that guarantees $ 8.5 million.
Hunt is also evolving as a leader. While Chubb inspires teammates with his work ethic and humble style, Hunt is fiery and emotional.
"Kareem was already a very vocal guy," said quarterback Baker Mayfield. "It's just him and Nick are very different in that regard. So it's a very thunder and lightning approach. I see Kareem getting louder as we go along, but that's nothing new to him. He's not changing. He is don't overcompensate for it and try to do too much.
"And he understands that. He's a great teammate. He's just going to be himself and that's someone who brings energy every day, talks his garbage, but supports him and we're happy to have him."
NOTES: Larry Ogunjobi (abs) and Sheldon Richardson (thighs) both missed training. WR Odell Beckham Jr. (toe), who scored three TDs in Dallas, and C JC Tretter (knee) were limited. ... TE David Njoku returned from injured reserve after injuring his knee in the season opening loss in Baltimore.
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