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RB Kareem Hunt "ready for any challenge" now that his workload may increase

Browns add depth with practice squad additions to running back group after injuries arise


As the Browns attempt to secure their third consecutive win, a feat not achieved since 2019, they will need to address their running game after dealing with some injuries.

RB Kareem Hunt was held out of Wednesday's practice due to a thigh injury. Yet, HC Kevin Stefanksi is optimistic that Hunt will be ready for Sunday when the Browns travel to Seattle to play the Seahawks.

Hunt has been getting in the groove and adjusting to the Browns system since joining in Week 3. He is a big part of the success the team has had rushing the ball in the past two weeks. He has rushed for 78 yards and scored three touchdowns in that span. Hunt has now regained his football shape after rushing for only 25 combined yards in Weeks 3 and 4.

"You got to go out there and just play, and that's what it kind of was," Hunt said. "It's hard to really say when or when it's done, but I think each week I'm going to keep getting better and feeling great."

After the Browns bye week in Week 5, their run game has found a bit of their stride recently. After struggling in Week 3 and 4 – where they failed to crack the 100-yard mark and scored one rushing touchdown – against the 49ers, they rushed for a total of 160 yards and scored a touchdown. Then, against the Colts, they ran for a total of 150 yards and scored three touchdowns.

However, the Browns are dealing with some injuries to their backfield. RB Jerome Ford did not participate in practice on Wednesday as he is dealing with an ankle injury he sustained in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against the Colts. 

Stefanski said Wednesday that he wants to see how Ford looks this week before a decision on his status for Sunday's game. If Ford is officially ruled out for Sunday's matchup against the Seahawks, Hunt could become the starter based off the depth chart.

Ever since Hunt signed with the Browns on Sept. 20, Hunt has been learning the Browns system. He also has been getting more involved in the last two games with an average of 11 carries. 

"I'm ready for any challenge, Hunt said. "And that's what type of person I am and player I am."

While Ford's status is unclear – as he is dealing with an ankle injury and did not practice on Wednesday – the Browns have other options for their backfield, like Pierre Strong Jr. As a team, they  have focused on using the motto "next man up," as they have overcome some significant injuries to starters. Hunt holds a level of confidence in their run game. 

"We got (a) good offensive line, good schemes, and I feel like we just do a good job of just putting the next man up," Hunt said. "Those guys know what it takes to be a great running back. Coach Stump is one of the best running back coaches in the league, and he knows how to get guys mentally ready to play, so we got to stay on top of that."

This season, Strong has shown good speed in the minimum snaps he has taken, with his longest run being 40 for yards this season. He also scored a touchdown and has averaged 4.9 yards per carry this season, which leads the team.

Stefanski expects to have three active running backs on Sunday and could look at two options the Browns have on their practice squad. The Browns signed veteran RB Jordan Wilkins and RB Nate McCrary to the practice squad Wednesday.

In four games with the Colts last season, Wilkins rushed for 58 yards, caught six passes for 28 yards and scored three touchdowns. Wilkins also spent time with the Browns during the preseason this year. McCrary appeared in one game with the Ravens as a rookie and only had one attempt. He also spent time with the Browns in the offseason and played in one preseason game.

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