BEREA, Ohio -- Fourth-year running back Isaiah Crowell has risen up the Cleveland Browns’ depth chart the same way he rushes through the line of scrimmage, with patience, vision and tenacity greater than those trying to compete with him.
And for the second straight year, Crowell stands to be a focal point of the Browns’ offense, an opportunity that he relishes as training camp continues at the team’s Berea headquarters.
“It's a blessing,” Crowell said after a recent practice. “It just feels good that my coaches and my teammates, they trust me and depend on me, so I'm just trying to go out there and be the best I can be.
“I'm embracing it to the best of my ability. It just feels good to have someone else look up to you and try to help everyone else be the best they can be also.”
Last year, Crowell rushed for 952 yards and seven touchdowns on 198 carries over 16 games for a Browns team that saw six players take snaps at quarterback because of injuries and ineffective play. Also, Crowell caught 40 passes for 319 yards and 14 first downs.
Crowell’s rushing yards, carries and catches, as well as rushing and receiving first downs were single-season career highs.
“I feel like I've come, not a long way, because I always felt like I could catch the ball and I could make people miss in the open field, but I know I've grown in catching the ball and I feel like Coach (Hue Jackson) gives me a lot of opportunities to do that,” Crowell said.
Given the fact that the Browns invested heavily on interior offensive linemen by signing free agents Kevin Zeitler and JC Tretter along with extending the contract of Joel Bitonio, Crowell believes the best is yet to come for the running game.
“Oh yeah, I feel like it's going to be a great year,” Crowell said. “I'm very excited about playing behind the O-line. I feel like we're going to do some amazing things.
“It feels good to have my teammates trust in me and my coaches trust me and believe in me. I've still got to 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.”
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