Nick Chubb would trade the yards and touchdowns he’s compiled through the first eight games for a few more wins.
That kind of mindset has been clear ever since Chubb arrived in Cleveland as a second-round rookie last season. That’s why there was little doubt Wednesday what the talented running back would say when he was asked about Kareem Hunt, the Pro Bowl running back who, after serving an eight-game suspension, will join him in the backfield starting Sunday against the Bills.
“He’s an exciting player,” Chubb said. “He makes very explosive plays and he’s definitely special. I’m excited to be a part of it and I’m excited to watch.”
Chubb’s been the Browns’ bell cow in every sense of the term this season, carrying the ball at least 15 times in every game and receiving an average of four targets per game through the air. He’s fourth in the league with 803 rushing yards — trailing two players who have played nine games to his eight — and third among running backs (with at least 90 carries) with an average of 5.2 yards per attempt.
Still, the Browns have found ways to take some of the load off his shoulders from time to time. Though there have been some games when Chubb has been on the field for nearly every snap, there have been just as many like last week’s, when he was on the field for 60 percent of the plays. Dontrell Hilliard played the other 40 percent, and now Hunt will be available to join the rotation.
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Neither situation is new for Chubb, who was an every-down back during the first part of his career at Georgia before splitting time with future first-round pick Sony Michel during the second half. He thrived in both settings.
“I can do whatever. I can play the role of being the main guy or sharing carries,” Chubb said. “In college, the first part of my career, I carried the load and in the second part I split carries. That’s probably more beneficial for the whole team.
“It’s all about the team for me. Whatever we can do to win, I’m all for it.”
The “how” in this situation remains up in the air and won’t be truly known until Sunday’s game unfolds.
Hunt has been with the team the past few weeks and will have logged 10 practices by Sunday. He underwent sports hernia surgery in August and came back fully recovered, giving the defense plenty of different looks as a member of the scout team the past two weeks. Now, he’s poised to be part of the game plan against a Buffalo defense that ranks third in the NFL in yards allowed per game.
Asked if Chubb and Hunt would share the field together, Browns coach Freddie Kitchens simply smiled and said, “we’re still trying to find out what we can draw up.”
“I definitely think that both of their skill sets offer you plenty of opportunities to do a lot with those guys,” Kitchens said. “They are both excellent runners, and they both catch the ball very well out of the backfield. They are good protectors. That makes them good all-around running backs.”
Chubb, of course, is an all-around good guy, as Kitchens has said more than a few times since he arrived in Cleveland. That’s giving him one less thing to worry about as the Browns craft their plan for Hunt.
“I think Nick is about one thing and one thing only: winning,” Kitchens said. “Nick gives us a great opportunity to win. I think we are adding another chip to the puzzle to increase those chances, too. I do not think either of those are very selfish at all so whatever gives us the best chance to win.”