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Tag:Montario Hardesty
Posted on: March 19, 2011 9:08 pm
 

Potential in the Browns' backfield

Posted by Andy Benoit

If the Cleveland Browns play football in 2011, they could be featuring a potent one-two punch in the backfield. Last year, it just a potent one-punch, as battering ram tailback Peyton Hillis, with his ultra pure downhill style, rushed for over 1,100 yards.

When training camp opened up, Hillis wasn’t supposed to be The Guy. Recall that the Browns invested a second round draft pick in Montario Hardesty. The 225-pounder tore up his knee in late summer (injuries were a concern with Hardesty coming out of Tennessee).
Browns president Mike Holmgren is already fantasizing about aligning Hardesty and Hillis in the same backfield together.

"I could get real excited about that," Holmgren said via ESPN. "That's a good combination for this reason: I think they both have excellent ball skills, catching the ball and running skills. So you don't have to have one guy as the runner, one guy as the catcher, one guy as the blocker, you don't have to do that."

Obviously, lining up in the same backfield means one guy sacrificing and being the fullback. (Hillis has some fullbacking experience from his days in Denver.)

"They both have to be willing to do all those things for each other," Holmgren said. "If those are the two in the game at the same time, they have to block for each other and they have to do everything. I think they are capable of doing that. I hope I get a chance to see that."

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Posted on: March 18, 2011 6:28 pm
 

Hot Routes 3.18.11: Waiting for Goodell

Posted by Josh Katzowitz and Will Brinson



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  • This actually has nothing to do with the NFL, but a local sports reporter almost got run over by an SUV (backing up, at slow speed) midway through a live report. It's pretty amazing.
  • We absolutely love that former Bengals draft bust Akili Smith is defending former Auburn QB Cam Newton from comparisons that he's similar to, you know, Akili Smith. "I'm nowhere near the athlete that Cam is," Smith told Bengals.com.
  • The South Florida Sun-Sentinel writes that Ryan Mallett’s draft status is dropping just like Jimmy Clausen did last year. Unlike Clausen, though, people apparently are concerned with Mallett’s character and personality.
  • The Boston Globe reports TE Alge Crumpler underwent shoulder surgery in late January for a significant injury. No word on if he’ll return to next season at full strength.
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Posted on: October 13, 2010 10:43 pm
 

Jerome Harrison was confused as well

J. Harrison has been traded to Philadelphia, and now, he might get a chance to contribute (Getty).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Now that former Browns RB Jerome Harrison has been traded to Philadelphia for RB Mike Bellas detailed here – he can speak the truth about his wonderment of why Cleveland coach Eric Mangini didn’t play him.

Will Brinson has theorized all along that Harrison was holding Mangini’s family hostage in his basement, but apparently, that’s not the case, because Harrison couldn’t figure it out either. After all, Harrison rushed for 561 yards in the final three games of last season – three Browns wins, mind you – and might have saved Mangini’s job in the process.

In a phone conversation he had with the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot, Harrison said he wasn’t sure what the deal was.

"I didn't understand one part of how it happened,” Harrison said. “I didn't get into any fights with anybody and I didn't think there were any bad feelings toward me by any of the coaches or anything."

After the end of last season, the Browns drafted Montario Hardesty – who ended up tearing his ACL – and trading for Peyton Hillis. Once Hardesty went down, the starting job went to Hillis instead of Harrison.

"It was mind-boggling," said Harrison. "But it's the nature of the business. I didn't understand it. I'm not an angry person, so I'm not upset. But I was a little frustrated.

"I don't think I was what they wanted. People have different likes and dislikes. I don't think I was in their current plans or their future plans."

While Harrison didn’t make any overtly-obvious disparaging remarks about the team this season – though you didn’t have to be a mind-reader to figure out he was unhappy – it sounds like the organization wasn’t happy with what Harrison was saying either.

From the Plain Dealer:

Harrison, in the last year of his contract, did get 16 carries the following week against Kansas City, but lost a fumble. The Browns thought he was down, but Mangini stressed that it shouldn't have been on the ground in the first place. The next week, Harrison was inactive with a thigh injury in Baltimore while Hillis rushed for 144 yards.

A few days later, when Harrison was asked if his role might change, he said, "I didn't know what my role was in the first place." Asked about his carries, he said, "What carries?"

The comments didn't sit well with the Browns, but Harrison said he never heard directly of any displeasure. Instead, Mangini said publicly that if Harrison had a problem, his door was always open. Harrison never took him up on it.

The following game against Cincinnati, the Browns got their point across: Harrison stood on the sidelines the whole game, trotting out only for the final three plays in the victory formation.


After all that, though, Harrison leaves the team with positive thoughts. Perhaps it’s because he’s going to an NFC East contender where he’ll have a chance to contribute while leaving a Browns squad that will have to fight hard not to finish in the AFC North basement.

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Posted on: October 5, 2010 10:14 am
Edited on: October 5, 2010 6:41 pm
 

Top Ten With a Twist: Curse of Wally Pipp

P. Hillis has taken over the Cleveland running game (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

We’re a quarter of the way into the season, and some players who were originally slated to be backups suddenly have emerged as starters. Maybe it was through an injury to the former starter. Maybe it was because the starter wasn’t as good as the team thought and the backup was better. Maybe it was because – and Wally Pipp could relate to this – somebody just needed an off-day.

In fairness to the old-time Yankees first baseman, who was replaced one day (permanently, it turned out) in 1925 by a guy named Lou Gehrig because Pipp had a headache, that story might not be true exactly. Instead, he might have been benched because manager Miller Huggins simply wanted to shake up the lineup. Either way, Gehrig played the next 2,130 games, and Pipp ended up in … Cincinnati (and apparently, he was also one of Sports Illustrated’s first writing hires, one of those cool but useless facts).

Anyway, there have been some impact players to emerge this season so far, simply because they, like Gehrig, were given that chance to shine. Some have won a starting position. Some are just holding it until the real starter returns. But they’re all making a (mostly good) impression. It sounds like the perfect Top Ten With a Twist list to me.

10. Lance Moore, WR/PR, Saints: The story of Moore’s career. A Saints starts gets injured. Moore steps in and makes plays. Remember in 2008 when Moore caught a team-high 79 passes for 928 yards and 10 touchdowns after Marques Colston was hurt? Obviously, when Reggie Bush returns from his broken leg, Moore will fade back into the background – maybe. But man, he looked electric against the Falcons (six catches, 149 yards, two touchdowns), and he’s become a big target for New Orleans when it’s in the red zone.

9. Max Hall, QB, Cardinals: Look, we all know Derek Anderson isn’t a very good quarterback. But I didn’t think he would have a chance to lose his job this early. Hall, meanwhile, was a 2010 undrafted free agent (seriously, how poor is Anderson to lose to an undrafted free agent?). Not that Hall was great when he replaced Anderson on Sunday, because he wasn’t, but he might be Arizona’s best option at this point. Coach Ken Whisenhunt, meanwhile, isn’t talking. “I think we're going to go without [a quarterback) this week,” he joked Monday. “I think we're going to go with all Wildcat."

8. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots: He averaged about eight carries per game his rookie year in 2008, but with Kevin Faulk lost for the season – and Fred Taylor unavailable for the Miami game Monday – Green-Ellis (47 carries this year for 215 yards) has already nearly doubled his attempts from last year. He had his breakout in Week 3 against Buffalo when he carried the ball 16 times for 98 yards and a score, and vs. the Dolphins, he was impressive with a 16-carry, 78-yard, one-touchdown performance.

7. Shaun Hill, QB, Lions:
The reason Hill is so low on this list is because there’s no way he’ll take the job from Matthew Stafford. But still, how impressive has Hill looked the past few weeks? After Stafford went out with the shoulder injury in Week 1, Hill was terrible. But the past three weeks, he’s completed 61.9 percent of his passes for five touchdowns and six interceptions (he’s also averaging 301 passing yards per game), and he really impressed me in Detroit’s two-point loss to Green Bay.

6. Bruce Gradkowski, QB, Raiders: It didn’t take long for Raiders coach Tom Cable to figure out that, in order to save his job, he’d take his chances with Gradkowski instead of Jason Campbell. This is not to say Gradkowski is an elite quarterback, because that’s a laughable notion. But he played well at times when he was in Tampa Bay after Chris Simms ruptured his spleen in 2006 (Gradkowski failed to win the starting job in 2007). For now, though, Gradkowski is entrenched as Cable’s guy. As long as Cable is around.

5. Koa Misi, LB, Dolphins: Ikaika Alama-Francis was supposed to be the starter, but the night before the season opener, he caught some kind of illness and he’s been recovering ever since, losing 15-20 pounds in the process. Misi, the team’s second round Draft pick this year, has taken over his starting spot with consistent play and a smooth transition to the pro game. It was originally thought that Misi’s main objective would be as a situational pass-rusher – he was, after all, a defensive end in college – but he’s proven his worth as an every-down back with two sacks and a fumble recovery TD. In the meantime, he’s also Wally Pipp’d Alama-Francis.

4. Taylor Mays, S, 49ers: Mays so Wally Pipp’d former starter Michael Lewis that San Francisco released Lewis Monday, the day after Mays’ huge game against Atlanta. Mays had taken Lewis’ starting job already, and it sounds like Lewis asked for his release, but still, that’s pretty impressive for a rookie. Mays, in case you didn’t see it, had a phenomenal touchdown (both feet down!) after a punt block to give San Francisco a 14-0 lead. He also made 11 tackles.



3. John Carney, K, Saints: Carney, who will turn 65 later this year (I’m kidding, he’s 46), has returned once again to the NFL, and after making three kicks this past week, you have to wonder how much longer Garrett Hartley will stay on the roster – or why he’s on the roster at all at this point. Obviously, Carney isn’t the future kicker in this organization, and maybe the Saints are keeping Hartley around, because they’re hoping he can overcome what’s been a terrible start to the season for him. Otherwise, he’d already have been Pipp’d.

2. Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins:
Torain and Clinton Portis have split carries, but it seems that if this was the 100-meter dash at the Olympics, Torain would be Usain Bolt and Portis would be the other seven guys. Meaning Torain is pulling away and eventually will take Portis’ starting role. It could happen this week actually as Portis hurt his groin Sunday. Let me also briefly mention San Diego’s Mike Tolbert, who replaced first-round pick Ryan Mathews when he was injured and rushed for 255 combined yards the past three games (including a 100-yard performance Sunday when Mathews was in the game). But coach Norv Turner says he’s committed to keeping Mathews as the starter, so Tolbert doesn’t fit on this list all that well.

1. Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns: It was supposed to be Montario Hardesty and Jerome Harrison running the ball in Cleveland. Hillis – who was traded from Denver in the Brady Quinn deal this past offseason – was supposed to be just an afterthought. Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs had never heard of the guy until he ripped off 180 total yards (144 on the ground, the most Baltimore has allowed in five years) against the Ravens. With Hardesty out with a season-ending injury and with Harrison failing to make an impression on the Cleveland coaching staff, Hillis has taken advantage, tying the league high with four touchdowns and averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Like Gehrig, it appears that Hillis has no future plans to give up his starting spot.

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Posted on: September 16, 2010 10:16 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2010 11:34 pm
 

So, what's the deal with Jerome Harrison?

J. Harrison only got nine carries last week against Tampa Bay (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Perfectly encapsulated in the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Tony Grossi’s lede in his story this evening is what Will was saying earlier today.

Writes Grossi: “Sometimes it seems like the Browns lose Jerome Harrison's number.”

Writes Will Brinson: … “He's (apparently) done something evil to Eric Mangini's family, because there's no other way to explain how a guy who put up a season's worth of rushing yards in the last three games of 2009 is still splitting carries with fumble-machine Peyton Hillis and only getting carries when the team is backed into its own end zone.”

It’s actually hard to believe Harrison didn’t play more last Sunday. So, let’s try to figure this out logically. Why didn’t the Browns give Harrison more than nine carries last week? After all, Harrison averaged more than five yards a carry, and the Browns were winning most of the game. What’s the problem?

My theories:

Maybe it’s because Harrison isn’t known as a great pass blocker. Maybe it’s because the three teams he dominated last year for a combined 561 yards finished No. 31 (Kansas City), No. 29 (Oakland) and No. 19 (Jacksonville) in the NFL in run defense. Maybe it’s because the week before he started that unreal three-game stretch, he gained nine yards on seven carries against Pittsburgh – the third-best running defense in the league. Plus, he’s small (5-foot-9, 205 pounds).

All of those are possibilities, I suppose.

But the man the team took in the second round of the 2010 Draft, Montario Hardesty, who blew out his knee in the preseason, was known to have knee problems coming out of Tennessee, and Peyton Hillis only had 13 carries last year and was known as a short-yardage back. Harrison has more experience – and more success – than either of those players. So, yeah, it makes all the sense in the world that Hillis started instead of Harrison.

I’m just kidding about that. Despite all I wrote in the two paragraphs above this one, I have no idea why the Browns didn’t give Harrison more carries Sunday. I’m not sure I can figure out this one logically, because it doesn’t seem like a logical move (I’m sure it’s logical to the Browns coaches, though).

Now, the Browns will face Kansas City. You know what happened last time Cleveland played the Chiefs? Harrison rushed for 286 yards and three touchdowns on 34 carries. Which means he’ll probably get 10 carries Sunday. 

And since I began this post with Grossi’s lede, I’ll leave with you his kicker as well.

Coincidentally, the only player in the NFL who had more rushing yards than Harrison over the last month of the season last year was Jamaal Charles of the Chiefs. Charles finished with 1,120 yards in 10 starts; Harrison had 862 in seven.

And look what the Chiefs did. They went out and signed veteran rusher Thomas Jones as a free agent. When the Chiefs took the field for their first play on offense Monday night against San Diego, Charles was on the bench.

"Lets you know it happens everywhere, huh?" Harrison said.


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Posted on: September 3, 2010 12:52 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2010 4:15 pm
 

LenDale White, Montario Hardesty out for season

Posted by Will Brinson

LenDale White and Montario Hardesty each left their team's respective preseason game Thursday night after suffering an injury, and the news today is even worse, as it appears that both running backs will miss the entire 2010 season. White ruptured his Achilles; Hardesty tore his ACL

Clearly, Hardesty's injury is the most disappointing -- the Browns drafted him in the second round and believed that he could be a significant contributor to the team this year. The upshot is that they at least have Jerome Harrison (who, thanks in part to his fumbling, the coaches don't seem to like) who can shoulder the load.

Still, it's a tough pill to swallow. White's injury is less painful because he wasn't even slated to see significant reps for the Broncos, given the presence of Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter, both of whom are healthy after earlier injuries.

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Posted on: September 2, 2010 10:26 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2010 10:31 pm
 

Running back injuries

Posted by Andy Benoit

After missing all of the preseason with a right knee injury (bone bruise), Browns running back Montario Hardesty made his pro debut Thursday night and…injured his knee. This time, it was the left knee. Hardesty, whom the Browns are hoping can start this year, had seven carries for 25 yards and a touchdown. After the injury, he was able to walk to the locker room under his own power.

Still, as Scott Petrak of the Chronicle Telegram points out, the BRowns must be concerned, as Hardesty had three knee surgeries in his pre-NFL career.
 
Another running back got dinged up Thursday night: Denver’s LenDale White. The Associated Press reports that the former Titans second-round pick left the Vikings game with an ankle injury. Fortunately for the Broncos, Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter are both healthy again. Plus, White must serve a four-game suspension at the beginning of the season anyway.

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Posted on: August 31, 2010 9:59 am
 

Hot Routes 8.31.10: No retractions here

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Lawyers for Chargers WR Vincent Jackson are demanding a retraction from the San Diego Union-Tribune after publishing a story in which it claimed Jackson was receiving financial support from his agents while he’s not in training camp. Pro Football Talk has the story. I’ll refrain from saying anything more, because I certainly don’t want to receive any kind of correspondence from Jackson’s lawyers.

- Buccaneers starting QB Josh Freeman had the cast from his thumb removed , and Tampa Bay says he’s right on schedule to return for the season opener. When your backups are Josh Johnson and Rudy Carpenter, that’s a pretty good piece of news.

- Browns rookie RB Montario Hardesty finally will make his preseason debut Thursday, and to say his teammates are interested in seeing how he produces is a bit of an understatement. Though Jerome Harrison downplays it in this story, I’m sure he’s more interested than just about anybody.

- Former Bengals LB Rashad Jeanty, who was released by Cincinnati on Monday after failing a physical, is known as a good dude in the locker room and a great teammate. But man, his agents are pissed with the team’s training staff. This does not make Cincinnati’s trainers look very good, especially coming on the heels of the Antonio Bryant disaster.

- Before I read this story, I didn’t give credence to the thought that Vikings backup QB Tarvaris Jackson’s No. 2 job might be in jeopardy to Sage Rosenfels. Apparently, coach Brad Childress agrees. He says nothing most likely will change on his depth chart at the QB spot.

- Raiders QB Jason Campbell participated in Oakland’s walk-through on Monday and he performed the same drills as all other quarterbacks. Campbell suffered a “stinger” and a wrist injury during last Saturday’s game against San Francisco.

- Former Cardinals QB Kurt Warner is officially a member of the next season of “Dancing with the Stars.” I don’t think he’ll be the odds-on favorite to win the competition, though. After all, Jennifer Grey from “Dirty Dancing” also is competing.

-Packets OLB Brad Jones likely only will play in one preseason game because the shoulder he injured Aug. 19 still is giving him problems. But despite the fact he’s been fitted with a shoulder harness, he says he feels great about where he stands. In fact, he said his new piece of equipment makes him look a little like Robocop. And as we all know, Robocop was pretty badass.

- It’s a big day for former Ohio State star RB Maurice Clarett, as he’s signed with the UFL’s Omaha Nighthawks . The NFL dream lives on. Not bad for a guy who spent more than three years in prison.

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