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Browns Bye Week Overview: Part 2

October 27, 2010
Jack Bacevice

Now it is time to look at the running backs. Going into this season the Browns had reason to be optimistic with a pair of H-Backs, Montario Hardesty and Jerome Harrison, expected to lead the rushing attack with Lawrence Vickers blowing open holes. The plans sort of came to fruition. Lawrence Vickers is blowing open holes. However another H, Peyton Hillis, has been the lead back while Montario Hardesty is on IR and Jerome Harrison was sent to Philly. Beside single handedly bringing back the white tailback, Hillis has been punishing defenses and is on pace to rush for over a 1,000 yards this season. (Trivia question: Who was the last white running back to rush for 1,000 yards in an NFL season? Answer at the end of this column)

In addition to jettisoning Harrison, the Browns also said goodbye to James Davis this week. So the current running back depth chart reads 1) Peyton Hillis 2) Mike Bell 3) Thomas Clayton (really?) My quick thoughts...

Hillis is the kind of player you have gotta love. The dude works his butt off and has a knack for finding success. He has rushed for 460 yards and 5 score, while also adding 193 yards and a TD receiving. Not only is he a very solid starting running back, but it seems he has a very bright future here. In 2011, when Montario Hardesty returns (fingers super crossed) the Hardesty/Hillis combo could conceivably (3 C's!) form the best running game in the league. I love how Hillis is constantly finding a way to contribute. He is a threat every time he touches the ball. He even completes passes, er, pass. I love Hillis!

I don't love Mike Bell. Don't even like him. I have LeSean McCoy is one of my fantasy football leagues. I had Mike Bell as a handcuff. Just prior to his being traded to the Browns, I cut Bell. Not because he wasn't McCoy's clear number 2, but because after paying close attention to him and watching a few Eagles games, I determined even if McCoy were hurt, Bell was worthless. He just isn't very good. I didn't have a problem with trading Harrison. Hillis clearly seems the better back right now, and Jerome was a malcontent. I would have much rather grabbed a draft pick for Harrison and let Davis be the number 2 back. The Browns had different views. They brought in Bell and cut Davis, replacing him with some dude who sounds like a George Clooney Character's brother. Tom Clayton isn't your running back, he's your lawyer.

So as long as Peyton Hillis gets the majority of the carries the rest of the year, and all the leftovers go to Josh Cribbs, Colt McCoy/Seneca Wallace, and maybe even one or two for Vickers, the running back situation should be solid.

Tomorrow I'll look at the receivers/tight ends, so check back!

Trivia answer: In 1985 New England Patriots running back Craig James (yes, the college football analyst) rushed for 1,227 yards becoming the last white running back to rush for over 1,000 yards in an NFL season. Want even more Hillis/James similarities? Both were born in January (Hillis Jan. 21, James Jan. 2). Both were 7th round picks (Hillis 227th overall, James 187th overall). James was 24 when he ran for 1,227. Hillis currently is???? 24.

One final thought: Go Cavs!

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