Hardesty's work draws praise

Posted Dec 14, 2012

Running back Montario Hardesty has taken his role within the Browns’ offense and made the most of his carries.

Running back Montario Hardesty has dealt with a season-ending knee injury in 2010, calf issues last year and competition from a stable of running backs, including the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Trent Richardson, during his three-year career with the Cleveland Browns.

When Richardson went down with a knee injury in training camp, Hardesty became the team’s featured back and rushed for 97 yards and one touchdown on 30 carries. While he was productive, Hardesty also fumbled in the team’s win at Green Bay.

At the start of the year, Hardesty did not play in three of the first four games. However, he has proven to be a spark when given carries. Hardesty has a long rush of at least 12 yards in each of the last four games, including a 25-yard run in last Sunday’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

“Montario Hardesty did a very nice job,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “I’m proud of how he’s handled himself this year and I think he has made the most of his opportunities. I think he did a nice job.

“I think he looked different to me. I think we talked about it. We can all go back to our notes. He looked different to me at the start of training camp and I think it has carried through the season.”

General manager Tom Heckert said the success Hardesty has had with his role in the Browns’ offense is “a credit to him.”

“He did a great job in the offseason,” Heckert said. “You hear so many things about how long it takes somebody to come back fully from a knee and who knows? Was he completely healthy last year? No, but he had some other stuff, the calf and the little things that really made it seem monumental. He did a great job, came back in great shape, even though with the circumstances. We drafted Trent and he didn’t mope around. That’s a credit to him.”

On the season, Hardesty has rushed for 215 yards and scored his first NFL regular-season touchdown on a one-yard carry against the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 14. Hardesty carried the ball 15 times for 56 yards in the 34-24 win over Cincinnati when Richardson suffered a rib injury.

“I like the fact that he’s been able to come in and explode and just give us a different pace,” offensive coordinator Brad Childress said. “They have a couple different backs at the Redskins that are able to change up. I’ve talked before about changes of pace. It’s nice to have two different kinds of backs, because the defense kind of sets its cleats in the ground for one style of run.”

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