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TBT: Earnest Byner says Browns RBs Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr. can be 'special'

Earnest Byner remains one of the greatest running backs in Browns history.

And lately, he's been using his wisdom to help mold the team's current ball-carriers along with running backs coach/run game coordinator Kirby Wilson, head coach Hue Jackson and others.

Byner, who spent 14 seasons in the NFL (including seven in Cleveland), said he's been impressed by Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr., who are both expected to play key roles on the Browns' offense next season.

He also has a message for the pair of young backs.

"The biggest thing I'd like to get across to them is don't worry about your age. (Former Browns RB) Kevin Mack and I — he was a rookie and I was in my second year — when we both rushed for 1,000 yards and galvanized the team," said Byner, who pointed to the 1985 season in which he and Mack combined for 2,106 rushing yards (the two also helped Cleveland reach the AFC Championship Game in 1986 and 1987).

"You two can galvanize the team in ways that can be really special. These guys have the ability to be special, they have the ability to make others better. The linemen, when they're pulling out in front of them on screens, they have the ability to make the entire team better … take control of that, grasp it, because this is a really good opportunity for you and you'll be beloved by the fans for a long time if you do this."

A look back at legendary RB Earnest Byner.

Byner, a two-time Pro Bowl selection who won a Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins in 1991, also echoed a familiar sentiment around Berea lately, saying he likes the direction the Browns are heading under Jackson, executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown and the rest of Cleveland's leadership team.

"That energy is coming back," he said, "and I'm really proud and happy and blessed to be a small part of that."

And after spending some time with Jackson and Co. on the practice field, he had praise for the coach's communications skills, comparing him to former Browns coach Marty Schottenheimer, whom Byner played for from 1984-1988.

"I think the way Hue communicates with them, his matter-of-fact way of talking to them and also coaching them, he reminds me of Marty and the ability to be frank but also be genuine, it's something that some coaches don't have — some have a natural gift and he has that," he said.

"I think that communication is something that the guys will gravitate to … I think it's a beautiful thing, it's headed in the right direction.

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