CLEVELAND — Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt was back on the football field for regular-season action Sunday after spending nearly a full calendar year away from the game because of off-the-field incidents.
After missing the final month of the 2018 regular season and serving an eight-game suspension to start this year, Hunt made his debut against the Buffalo Bills at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, and when he was not carrying the ball, the Pro Bowl rusher was clearing the way for Nick Chubb to help lead the Browns to a 19-16 victory.
“Honestly, there’s not enough words to describe how I felt.,” Hunt said. “It was so emotional.
“Sometimes, I was thankful, sad. A couple of times, I thought I was going to shed a few [tears]. It felt so good to be back out there. This is what I love to do. I couldn’t be happier to be home, too. It felt good. My first real game playing for the Cleveland Browns we got a W, so I’m happy.”
Hunt got only four carries, but converted them into 30 yards and a game-high 7.5 yards-per-rush average. Additionally, Hunt caught seven of the nine passes quarterback Baker Mayfield threw his way and turned those receptions into 44 yards.
When Hunt was not carrying the ball, he served as a lead blocker for most of Chubb’s 20 rushes against the Bills. With Hunt helping to lead the way and distract the defense coupled with hard running, Chubb gained 116 rushing yards.
“My mindset was that anytime I get the opportunity to play, I’m going to do it,” Hunt said. “Anytime I can help out the team, whatever it is -- blocking, catching passes, running -- anytime I can do something to help benefit this team, I’m going to do it.”
Browns coach Freddie Kitchens added, “Kareem has worked tremendously hard as a person and on the football field. I am just as proud of Kareem off the field as I am on it. He knows that. I am glad he is here with us. He is very unselfish. He and Nick get along great together, and he fits in well here.”
Although Hunt saw only 11 total touches in his first NFL game in more than 340 days, he walked off the field happy because the third-year rusher contributed to a victory, the Browns’ first in more than a month, and a game they had to have to keep pace with the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North Division.
Also, the Browns’ win over the Bills was their first at FirstEnergy Stadium this season and kicked off a three-game homestand in style.
“I feel like everyone just came together and played like a team at the end,” Hunt said. “We fought hard for that win. That is the way we need to come out and play every time. There are still little things we can fix, but we’ll go back to the board and fix that.”