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Heckert focuses on developing the run

Posted Mar 8, 2012

Tom Heckert addressed the Browns running back situation during a media session Thursday.

Perhaps no position on the Browns’ roster experienced more injuries than running back during the 2011 season.

Three different running backs -- Peyton Hillis, Montario Hardesty, and Chris Ogbonnaya -- started at least three games for the Browns in 2011. Hillis led the way with 587 yards and three touchdowns on 161 carries in nine starts. Ogbonnaya, who was signed off the Houston Texans’ practice squad, became the team’s first 100-yard rusher this season and gained 334 yards with one touchdown on 73 carries. Hardesty gained 266 yards on 88 carries.

One of just three free agent acquisitions from other teams in 2011, running back Brandon Jackson missed the entire season with a toe injury.

“Besides the injury stuff, we like those guys,” Browns general manager Tom Heckert said Thursday. “We like Brandon. He should be fine; hopefully, he’s fine. We still like Hardesty and we like Obi, so we think we have three backs. We really do. If a chance comes around that we can get another one, yes, whether it’s Peyton or somebody else. We’re still in pretty good shape.”

Trent Richardson from the University of Alabama is the consensus No. 1 running back available in the 2012 NFL Draft.

In 2011, Richardson rushed for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns on 283 carries. He also added 29 receptions for 338 yards and three touchdowns catching the ball out of the backfield. During his career at Alabama, Richardson rushed for 3,130 yards and 35 touchdowns on 540 carries.

“He’s a really good player,” Heckert said. “He had a little knee surgery, a little scope, so he won’t be able to work out until the 28th or something like that. He’s obviously, a big, tough, physical runner. He is a physical runner and we really like him. He can pass-protect; he’s a smart kid.”

For the second time in as many seasons, Alabama’s leading rusher is eligible for the draft. Last year, it was the Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram. The New Orleans Saints selected Ingram later in the first round and the rookie made an impact before injuries shortened his season.

In ten games, Ingram rushed for 474 yards and five touchdowns on 122 carries.

“Obviously, people are going to compare him to Ingram and they’re very similar,” Heckert said of Richardson. “He’s probably going to run faster than Ingram, but they’re both really good players. It’s amazing that those two guys came out of the same school.”

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