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Hardesty working his way back

Posted Mar 9, 2011

Running back Montario Hardesty has spent nearly seven months recovering and rehabbing from a knee injury suffered in the 2010 preseason finale against the Chicago Bears.

Montario Hardesty's NFL career did not start the way he had hoped it would.

After missing training camp following an injury in a pre-camp workout, Hardesty worked his way back onto the field in time for the Browns’ preseason finale against the Chicago Bears. He rushed for 25 yards and one touchdown on seven carries before being removed from the game due to another injury.

Two days after the finale, Hardesty was placed on injured reserve and lost for the entire season.

“I’ve been doing (well),” Hardesty said. “That was a tough injury for me. Starting the year, you anticipate the season and are just in a great mood with the season approaching. That was tough for me, but once I got over that, everything’s good. I’m just really looking forward to getting back on the field. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming season.

“Rehab is going well,” he added. “I think I have a little bit of work still left to get myself there. I wouldn’t say I’m well ahead of schedule, but it’s coming along great. I just have a little bit of a ways to go before I’m back to 100 percent.”

Without Hardesty, a second-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Browns found another running back to gain yards. Peyton Hillis gained 1,177 yards and scored 11 touchdowns on 270 carries. He set the pace for a Browns offense that rushed for 1,646 yards, 13 touchdowns and 4.0 yards-per-carry.

Following that success, the Browns sent two of their offensive linemen, left tackle Joe Thomas and center Alex Mack, to the Pro Bowl.

“I set goals for myself throughout the year,” Hardesty said. “For last season and not being able to play the entire year, at that time of year, I’m a football player. I’m used to playing football, so it was hard for me to watch football at first. The most disappointing thing was not being able to get out there.

“Peyton came in and had a great season and the line blocked well,” he added. “I’m just trying to get back in the mix, play football again and show what I can do on the field.”

Between getting healthy, seeing the success of the running game behind the offensive line and the addition of new head coach Pat Shurmur, Hardesty is looking forward to the 2011 season.

“I think I was the first guy Coach Shurmur met actually,” Hardesty said. “When he first got on the job, I was in there doing rehab. I just felt like he was really excited about his job. He’s excited about being in Cleveland; he’s excited about winning in Cleveland.

“His energy is going to make us play our hardest,” he concluded. “The energy he has around the building, he’s going to bring that energy to the field and the team. That’s always a good thing. With a person that’s easy to talk to, I think that’s going to make the players feel closer to the coaching staff.”