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Browns cherish the unique talents of Kareem Hunt, the 'Tasmanian Devil'

Hunt’s huge Week 3 performance gave the Browns another reminder of the luxury of their running back room

Nick Chubb is always amazed at the ways Kareem Hunt falls to the ground when he's being tackled — if he gets tackled at all.

"He runs like a wild man," Chubb said Wednesday. "He doesn't care about his body at all. He just runs it in there and bounces off of hits. He's a special type of player."

Baker Mayfield is fascinated, too. Both he and Chubb always have front-row views whenever Hunt carves through a defense, which he did plenty of times Sunday in the Browns' 26-6 win over the Bears.

"He runs like a Tasmanian Devil," Mayfield said. "His upper body is leaning one way, and his balance is outstanding. It's something that very few people are blessed with."

Hunt delivered his best performance since joining Cleveland as a free agent in the 2019 offseason Sunday when he punctured a typically stout Bears' defense with 74 receiving yards, 81 rushing yards and a highlight-reel touchdown run. His 155 yards from scrimmage were his most ever in a game as a Browns player.

When Hunt is on the field, good things always seemed to happen for a Browns offense, a group that's constantly reminded how spoiled it is with Hunt and Chubb, two of the fiercest running backs in the NFL.

Hunt's Week 3 performance served as yet another reminder.

"Anytime my number is called, I'm going to go out there and give it my all," Hunt said Sunday. "When I was able to go out there and hopefully change the game around because our offense was moving a little slow at the beginning, I was fired up. I want to win, and I want to do whatever it takes to win."

"Whatever it takes," in Hunt's mind, means twisting his legs in ways most people can't to stay upright whenever a defender makes a diving tackle attempt. It means doing whatever acrobatic move necessary to lunge forward when he's about to fall to the ground. It means lowering the shoulder against 230-pound linebackers running at full speed — and knocking them over.

That's what has made Hunt one of the most entertaining Browns players to watch every Sunday. Myles Garrett, Odell Beckham Jr., Denzel Ward and other stars have all built their career on jaw-dropping, how-did-they-do-that plays. 

To those who appreciate the difficulty of being a hard-nosed running back, Hunt creates those plays nearly every time he has the football.

"Kareem runs very hard," coach Kevin Stefanski said Sunday. "When it's there, he runs hard and makes great yards. When it's not there, he's still running hard and he's spinning out of it. I've seen it live and in living color with a great seat the last couple of years to see this kid fight for every yard out there. He has a great mentality and is a team guy all the way."

The Browns have managed to maximize Hunt's talents even though he shares a room with Chubb, another Pro Bowl talent who thrives more on running over defenses rather than torquing his body in uncomfortable positions. Both players are strong enough to break away for standout performances each week, and neither have ever complained over a lack of carries or production.

Stefanski always ensures each player has a chance to break out each weekend. That's a credit to how he manages their weekly workload, and also how he's used the outside zone scheme, which focuses on offensive linemen blocking in zones rather than specific defenders. 

The scheme is the core component of his playbook, one that ensures each of their carries has a chance to end with a big gain.

"The way we run the ball, it complements me and Kareem," Chubb said. "The outside zone is something I've come to love and something I've worked really hard at with my eyes and tracking things. Those are plays I like doing, which is huge to me."

 The success arguably has been more evident than ever through the Browns' first three games. They're first in the NFL with eight rushing touchdowns and second with 525 rushing yards, which is the most they've ever totaled through their first three games in a season.

The Browns have every reason to believe they can keep it going — and that's because Hunt is so great at finding ways to never stop.

"Whatever it takes man," Hunt said. "That's all I can say."

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