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Hardesty turns around slow start

Posted Aug 16, 2012

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Cleveland Browns running back Montario Hardesty had a slow start to Thursday night’s preseason game at Green Bay, but turned the day around with a second-quarter touchdown in the win.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Cleveland Browns running back Montario Hardesty looked as if he would start off Thursday night’s preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field with a good run, but that was quickly nullified by a fumble.

Hardesty, however, was able to recover from the miscue and rushed for 45 yards with one touchdown on 12 carries in the Browns’ 35-10 victory over the Packers.

“I was down about the turnover; I haven’t had a fumble since high school,” Hardesty said. “The O-line came out and blocked well for me and it was good to get back in the end zone after that to kind of make up for the mistake.”

Hardesty gained four yards on the team’s first offensive play of the game against the Packers, but fumbled. He was stripped of the football by Packers defensive back Charles Woodson -- who grew up in Fremont, Ohio. Rookie cornerback Casey Hayward recovered the fumble for the Packers at the Browns’ 23-yard line.

The Packers took advantage of the mistake when quarterback Aaron Rodgers dropped back and threw a pass to the right corner of the end zone where wide receiver Jordy Nelson caught the touchdown just 63 seconds into the game.

Rodgers’ lone touchdown pass of the evening came on third-and-seven from the Browns’ 20-yard line.

“You can’t have ball security issues,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “He knows that, but I do like the fact that he went out there and responded. He ran as well as I’ve seen him run, but we’ve all been talking about how he’s a different looking Montario this year since he’s healthy. He looks just different to me and let’s hope it stays that way.”

Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden added, “You could tell, when he was taking it from my hand, he was on a mission, so he ran the ball extremely well.”

Hardesty made up for the miscue with a one-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter. His scoring run finished off a six-play, 45-yard drive and was the Browns’ only touchdown of the first half.

“I was able to move forward and just forget the play and go on to the next play,” Hardesty said. “Thankfully, the O-line came out and blocked well and we were able to put a good drive together, one or two good drives together after that.”

In the Browns’ two preseason games, Hardesty has rushed for 61 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries. Hardesty has helped the team defeat two playoff teams from a year ago in the Detroit Lions last Friday night at Ford Field and the Packers this week.

When asked if the wins could be a confidence booster for the team, Hardesty responded quickly by saying, “definitely.”

“We wanted to win,” Hardesty said, “and with us having a young team, I think it’s good for us to get these wins and us getting the feeling of winning back so we can get greedy with winning because winning feels good. I think it’s good for our team and I think some guys played better than they did last week. I think we’re building on it as a team and things are coming into place a little bit.

“I think we put a good game together and finished coming out of halftime. I think we have a lot of good things to build on, so I think we’re definitely headed in the right direction.”