CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns’ one-two punch at running back, Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr., handled the bulk of the carries in the preseason, but it was unheralded rusher Raheem Mostert who stood out in more than one phase of the game.
Running back Raheem Mostert rushed for 47 yards on seven carries, an average of 6.7 yards per rush, and added 87 yards on six special-teams returns.
During the first quarter of the preseason opener against the Green Bay Packers, Mostert turned his five carries into 43 yards, including a 27-yard scamper. Despite losing a fumble on a safety punt, Mostert combined for 52 return yards.
“It was a good experience getting out there and being under Coach (Hue) Jackson, practicing all hard and stuff like that all throughout training camp, and then, going out there and trying to execute,” Mostert said.
“Having a couple good runs and doing some good assignments, and then, having the dropped kickoff after the safety, it kind of hurt me a little bit inside, but I got over it and just had to continue playing the game. Whether that happened or not, I had to move onto the next play.”
Primarily a special-teams player during the 2015 season, Mostert turned 12 kickoff returns into 309 yards, an average of 25.8 yards per return, with a 53-yard run back at the Seattle Seahawks on December 20. In that loss to the Seahawks, Mostert ran back five kickoffs for 159 yards, a 31.8 yards-per-return average.
Throughout training camp and the preseason, Mostert was utilized as both a kickoff and punt returner, the latter of which is a new responsibility to him, but one that he embraced under the direction of special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor when Travis Benjamin signed with the San Diego Chargers in free agency.
“I texted Coach Tabor and I was just like, ‘Hey, look, I know that position is somewhat open and wherever the draft goes and stuff like that in Corey Coleman, that’s a challenge that I want to do just to add value to the team and to show that I do have versatility in that phase and that I can provide some type of value to that part of the game,’” Mostert said.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to work on. I’ve been doing it since I was younger. I just never really got into the game and done it. It was a new experience for me, but I enjoyed it. I took on the challenge.”
But in addition to the role of punt and kickoff returner, Mostert hopes to expand his workload on offense.
“It’s a blessing,” Mostert said. “I just I have to continue to strive and try to be perfect in my game like Coach Kirb (Kirby Wilson) talks about. He always says, ‘Focus on the little details and that ultimately helps your career.’ That’s just something that I’ve been trying to work on throughout this training camp is just focus on my details and fundamentals and trying to figure out how I can be a better back.”