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Hardesty: 'I'll be ready to go'

Posted Dec 29, 2012

Browns running back Montario Hardesty said he will be ready to go when called upon to carry the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

All Cleveland Browns running back Montario Hardesty asked for was one chance to make an impact for the team, and the third-year rusher from the University of Tennessee has responded by leading the club in yards per carry among all players with more than 10 attempts.

Hardesty has averaged 4.6 yards per rush, gaining 234 yards and scoring one touchdown on 51 carries. He will get a chance to build upon those statistics with Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, as Trent Richardson was ruled out with an ankle injury suffered in the team’s loss to the Denver Broncos last weekend.

“I’ll be ready to go,” Hardesty said. “It’s a big opportunity for our team to get two wins over Pittsburgh. We haven’t done that in a long time around here. This is a big opportunity for our team and I’ll be ready to go, whatever the circumstances are. I (went) out, got a good week of preparation and (got) ready to win a game.

“I’m just excited to be able to get the opportunity to go out there and play ball. If that means I get more carries, I’ll welcome that with open arms, but I just want to help our team win. I’ll be out there as much as I (can be). I’ll be out there and ready to go.”

Every time he has been given a chance to carry the ball for the Browns, Hardesty has had a singular focus.

“I asked for a chance and when I get a chance, I’ve got to make sure that I maximize those opportunities,” Hardesty said. “That’s all I’ve been trying to do, maximize those opportunities every time I get in the game. I’ll try to do all I can to help our team win.”

Hardesty will be running against a Steelers defense that is ranked first in the NFL, allowing 272.9 yards per game. They are ranked first against the pass and second against the run. The Steelers have allowed their 15 opponents to rush for 1,312 yards, an average of just 87.5 yards per game.

“They have a stout defense,” Hardesty said. “There’s a lot of guys that have been playing together. They all understand their fits; they understand how they fit things and they blitz a lot. They have a good defense; they have a good front. They have Casey Hampton (Brett) Keisel, (Lawrence) Timmons, (LaMarr) Woodley, (James) Harrison and it goes on. They pride themselves on playing good defense.

“They have a lot of guys that have been playing in that system for a long time. They all know how to do it. You look at their scouting report; you see a lot of eight, nine, 10-year veteran guys that have been playing in the same system for a long time. They’re the No. 1 defense in the NFL, so it’s going to be a test for us.”