Isaiah Crowell was all smiles Friday afternoon as the Browns prepared for Day 2 of training camp. The running back is happy to be a focal point in Cleveland's offense and, in the process, out to prove why he's one of the league's top playmakers.
"It just feels good that my coaches and my teammates trust me and depend on me," Crowell said. "I'm just excited to go out there and be the best I can be."
All signs points toward Crowell, who enters his fifth year in Cleveland, having a big season. Browns coach Hue Jackson said as much earlier this spring, expressing a desire for the team to recommit itself to a run game that experienced ups and downs last year.
"(We've) got to run the ball more. I will be the first to tell you that," Jackson said in June. "I beat myself up about that. I'm a coach that likes to run the ball. We all recognize where we were in games last year, and trying to play from behind is hard, and understanding what our team was last year, feeling that you had to get off to a fast start to get ahead of a team because you knew how some things would unfold."
After the first month of the season, the Browns led the league in rushing with 149.3 yards per game. They averaged 60.5 yards over the next eight weeks before rebounding at the end of the season.
Crowell, who ran 198 times for 952 yards and seven touchdowns, said 1,000-plus yards could be on the horizon this fall.
"That's very realistic," he said with a big laugh. "That's very realistic."
He'll have help, too, after the Browns invested in their interior offensive line this past offseason by extending left guard Joel Bitonio and signing right guard Kevin Zeitler and center JC Tretter in free agency.
"He's not even in his prime yet and he saw what happens when last year, you work extremely hard, good things happen for you," run game coordinator and running backs coach Kirby Wilson said. "I think he enjoys that feeling of success and he's hungry and eager and looking for even more this season."
Added Crowell: "I still gotta go out here and work hard and prove myself to the world and to everybody. It's a lot to prove so I'm working hard to try to do that."