Kareem Hunt is back and ready to make an impact for the Cleveland Browns.
Following an 8-game suspension stemming from the Pro Bowl back violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, Hunt is set to suit up this week as the Browns take on the Buffalo Bills in a must-win situation — which will be what every week is dubbed here on out for the Browns.
“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. 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 the Chiefs 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 has has 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’.”
He’ll be sharing the backfield with Nick Chubb, who’s on pace for well over 1,000 yards this season. The duo have spoke highly of each other, and that didn’t change when Hunt was asked about Chubb on Thursday.
“Nick’s a freak man,” Hunt said. “Whenever I get my opportunity—no letdown.”
Odell Beckham on Kareem Hunt: ‘Watch out’
Hunt has the support of his teammates, including star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who knows that the team’s newest weapon is ready to explode.
“I just know he’s ready,” Beckham said. “I just know first play he gets the ball, I don’t know if there’s going to be any juke moves, somebody better watch out.”
For head coach Freddie Kitchens, what’s been exciting is seeing the growth from Hunt off the field.
“I think the excitement for him to get back on the field is warranted,” Kitchens said. “As a person, he’s grown. As a player, he’s grown, especially in our system.”
Nick Chubb Ready to Split Workload With Kareem Hunt
Chubb started nine games last season, rushing for 996 total yards. He would have eclipsed the much sought after 1,000-yard mark, but had his final carry of his rookie season go for a five-yard loss, knocking him back into the triple digits.
Chubb has averaged just over 22 touches per game with 154 carries and 25 catches in 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.
He’s not worried about possibly splitting the workload with a back of Hunt’s caliber considering he faced a similar situation in college with Sony Michelle — now the starting running back for the Patriots.
“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.
“It’s all about the team for me. Whatever we can do to win, I’m all for it.”