CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns are set to get a big addition in the playmaker department ahead of Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland when running back Kareem Hunt makes his regular-season debut.
Hunt completed his eight-game suspension last Sunday, and although he has been on the field for the last two weeks of practice, his teammates are eagerly anticipating what the one-time Pro Bowler can bring to the offense and how it will help the Browns get back in the win column.
“I’m excited to see him play,” left guard Joel Bitonio said. “I’ve seen him on film, we saw him in the preseason a little bit, but you don’t really have the whole offense out there. It’ll be exciting. I’m excited to see what wrinkles the coaching staff has with that, and it should be fun.
“It’ll be interesting to see how we use him in the game. I know what our game plan is, but I don’t know how we’re actually going to execute that on Sunday. I’m just excited to have another playmaker out there and see what he can do with the ball in his hands.”
With his regular-season debut on the horizon, Hunt showed his teammates a renewed focus and effort on the practice field Wednesday.
“I wouldn’t call him amped up,” Bitonio said. “I think he had a focus today about himself. He’s been here for a couple weeks, but the focus today was good. He’s actually getting reps with us and running through some things, and it was exciting to see. I think there was a focus and a good energy about him.”
In two years with the Kansas City Chiefs, Hunt rushed for 2,151 yards and 15 touchdowns with 106 first downs, 19 plays going for at least 20 yards and four 40-yard gains. Additionally, Hunt caught 79 passes out of the backfield for 833 yards and 10 touchdowns, including a single-season career high of seven in 2018.
As a rookie, Hunt went from not expected to have a large role in the offense to rushing for an NFL-best 1,327 yards on 272 carries, an average of 4.9 yards per attempt, which earned him a spot on the AFC Pro Bowl team.
However, instead of being the feature back, as he was in Kansas City, Hunt will have to split carries with Nick Chubb, who has been one of the NFL’s most consistent running backs this season.
Chubb has rushed for 803 yards and six touchdowns on 154 carries. Currently, Chubb is fourth in the NFL in rushing yards, seventh in attempts, eighth in yards-per-carry average, fourth in overall scrimmage yards and tied for fifth in touchdowns.
“They’re both weapons,” Bitonio said. “We have some stuff planned. We can’t divulge too much, but I think it’s exciting to just get another weapon out there. If you have both of those guys on the field, or one on the field and the other one can rest, you’re going to get the best version of each one of those guys, and it’ll be fun to see.
“I’m sure he’ll get some third-down snaps. I know he’s done that in the past, and he can catch the ball. He’s had a bunch of catches and runs in his career, and he’s a pretty good blocker from what I’ve seen. He can pick up blitzes and diagnose things, so it’s exciting to have him.”