Kareem Hunt’s long wait ends Sunday, and he's entering his second chance on the football field with a level of gratitude and thankfulness he admits he didn't have during the first part of his NFL career.
ClevelandBrowns.com caught up with the talented Browns running back after Friday's practice as his preparation continued for Sunday's game against the Bills.
CB.com: I know you've been counting down the days for Sunday's game. How's it feel now that it's finally here?
Hunt: It's finally becoming real. It's getting closer and closer and I can't be more excited. I'm just excited to be back out here on the field doing what I love and being able to play with a great organization like the Browns.
CB.com: What's it been like getting back on the practice field a few weeks ahead of time and how much did you need it?
Hunt: I definitely needed it a lot. I was rehabbing because I've been a little hurt and it helped get my legs back underneath me. It helped get my wind right and familiar with the plays. I was able to stay on top of the little things so I can come out sharp this weekend.
CB.com: Was this the first time you've been on an NFL scout team before?
Hunt: It definitely was. It was the first time I was on an NFL scout team unless we had a bye week or something going into the playoffs.
CB.com: How frustrating was it to not be able to log a full preseason because of the sports hernia injury?
Hunt: It was tough because it felt like it was just another thing to add on top of what I had to take care of. It was definitely tough to take time out and rehab and stay on top of it and don't let it linger anymore. I actually had the work done and repaired and I feel great.
Check out photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Bills Sunday by team photographer Matt Starkey
CB.com: How'd you spend the time during your suspension?
Hunt: I spent a lot of time with my family, friends and just hanging out. I'd catch the games on TV, have food, pizza, whatever. I'd just sit back and relax and that's pretty much all I did. I worked out, trained and stayed in shape.
CB.com: You mentioned earlier this week that this suspension has given you a different perspective on the game. How different would you say you feel right now than the last time you played?
Hunt: I'm more grateful every time I hit the field. I don't take any day for granted. I feel like I have before. Honestly, I would never take it for granted because you never know what play could be your last out here or what day could be your last day. I make sure to cherish each and every moment.
CB.com: You grew up in Cleveland and spent most of your life here. What's it been like to be back here over the past year or so?
Hunt: It's good. There's so much love and support out here for me. I just have a lot of people on my side from high school, middle school, elementary. Everybody's here rooting me on and cheering me on and they want to see me do great. I feel really good about the big group of support I have behind me.
CB.com: What's it been like watching what Nick Chubb has been able to do so far this season?
Hunt: Oh man, it's been great watching him. I enjoy watching him run the football. It's really nice to see Chubb go out there and have so much success. The dude works hard. He really does. He comes in each and every day, works hard in the weight room and at practice. He just loves the game of football and is a tough kid.
CB.com: What about you guys is similar and what is different?
Hunt: We're both two great running backs. It's hard to really say because we've both got our own style and our own little mix of things. Honestly, it's not really much. We're both great running backs.
CB.com: How do you see yourselves working together?
Hunt: We're definitely going to be able to spare ourselves and not take a lot of hits each and every game. Just giving each other a break, we'll be fresher through the second half of the season and just taking a load off back and forth with each other.
CB.com: You ran it a lot during your rookie season in Kansas City. Did you notice it take a toll by the end of the year?
Hunt: Most definitely. Halfway through the season, you start feeling that toll on your body and it'd be harder and harder to wake up and strap up for practice. You'd be looking forward to the bye week, too. Honestly, it catches up, but you do a great job of taking care of your body each and every day in the training room, which I believe Nick always does. I always see him around the training room and weight room. You should be fine, you're able to get through it, but it makes it easier and gives more longevity to us.
CB.com: What's it been like stepping into the locker room of a team where no one is happy with the record after the first half of the season?
Hunt: It's still very positive. We still want to focus on the next game, next play and just go out there and show them who we really are. We're a great football team. We just need to put all the pieces together and get it rolling and get some momentum on our side and take care of business.