Browns confident in run game, hoping it 'turns the corner' after playing from behind vs. Steelers

The Browns expect their run game to bounce back after an unremarkable showing in Sunday's season opener.

After falling behind by a touchdown off a blocked punt on the game's first series, Cleveland was forced to play catch-up in a 21-18 loss to the Steelers that was ultimately decided in the final minutes.

Head coach Hue Jackson, who spoke of a re-commitment to the ground game this past offseason, pointed to that dynamic as part of the reason why the Browns rushed 25 times for 57 yards, most of which coming before halftime.  

"In this league – I think we all get it – to score, you have to be able throw the ball. We can say what we want. I want to run the ball as bad as anybody, I think you guys saw that in the first half," Jackson said Monday, "but also, I have to put our players in position to win."

Sunday's circumstances — most notably a double-digit deficit in the second half — forced the Browns to turn to rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, who passed for 222 yards, a touchdown and interception in his debut.  

"A lot of time circumstances dictate your opportunities to run the ball and playing from behind for most of the game forced us to throw a little more than we wanted to," left tackle Joe Thomas said.

To be certain, the Browns expressed confidence in a new-look offense that essentially played together for the first time this past weekend. With new starters in right guard Kevin Zeitler and center JC Tretter plus Joel Bitonio's return to the lineup after a preseason knee injury, Jackson said some growing pains were to be expected.

"We took a unit yesterday that played together for the first time. All five guys playing together. That was Joel Bitonio's coming out party – he finally played a whole game – next to Joe Thomas, who finally played a whole game and then a center who is new and a right guard who is new and a right tackle (second-year player Shon Coleman) who is new," Jackson said.

"I know everybody wants to jump on the running game right quickly, but that is kind of the nuts and bolts of who we are and that might take a little time, but I suspect that it's going to turn the corner here real quickly. We just have to stay after it."​

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