Kareem Hunt is officially back.
After serving an eight-game suspension, Hunt made his season-debut for the Cleveland Browns on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.
Hunt’s first appearance of the season was not as a runner, but rather as a blocker for Nick Chubb. He helped blow open a hole as Chubb scampered for 21 yards. It became a theme that the Browns RB duo were on the field together.
Hunt caught three balls in the first half for 12 yards. He had three carries for 2 yards, including a play where he dragged a horde of Bills out of bounds toward the end of the half.
Hunt finished with 11 touches in his season debut, running for 30 yards on 4 carries and catching seven balls for 44 yards. His clutch grab late in the fourth also helped keep the Browns hopes alive.
Hunt did not get any work as the Browns floundered from inside the 3-yard line, coming away with just a field goal on two separate series.
Kareem Hunt Grateful for Second Chance
Hunt had been counting down the days since his last NFL action and expected his debut to be emotional.
“It’s been 342 days,” Hunt told reporters on Thursday. “You know I’ve been counting down, it’s going to be an emotional game.”
Hunt has racked up 2,151 rushing yards, 833 receiving yards in his first two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. He made the Pro Bowl in 2017 as the league’s leading rusher and was on pace for another strong season before being let go by Kansas City last season.
The catalyst in Hunt’s release was a video that went viral of him kicking and shoving a woman in a Cleveland hotel. Hunt is on a one-year prove-it deal with the Browns and he’s reunited with Browns general manager John Dorsey — who drafted him in Kansas City.
Hunt has had plenty of time to think about his return to football as he dealt with the consequences from that ordeal.
“I had a lot of time to just sit, reflect, think,” Hunt said. “Look at the big picture, from the outside in. Just thinking before you act. Just keeping your emotions to yourself.
“It means so much to me. I just know I appreciate the fact I get to go out and do this every day. Now, it’s like ‘yeah, I get to go to work’.”
Nick Chubb Welcoming of Split Backfield
There’s work to go around in the Browns backfield
Chubb has averaged just over 22 touches per game with 154 carries and 25 catches in the first eight games. After coming up just short of 1,000 yards a year ago, he’s on pace for well over that number this season.
Chubb was not worried about the split workload with a back of Hunt’s caliber coming in.
“I can do whatever. I can play the role of being the main guy or sharing carries,” Chubb said. “In college, the first part of my career, I carried the load and in the second part I split carries. That’s probably more beneficial for the whole team.”
The duo are actually each other’s biggest supporters.
“Nick’s a freak, man,” Hunt said. “Whenever I get the opportunity and get my name called, I’m going to get in there with no letdown, no let-off. Nick’s a great back, so is Dontrell (Hilliard) … I’m excited to be back out there, too. I love the way he runs the football. I’m always cheering for him. I’m his biggest hype man.”