Hunt has played a key role behind Nick Chubb and has been a model citizen since arriving in Cleveland. And it turns out he’s also taken on a vocal leadership role in the locker room.
After the Browns’ 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals last week that dropped the Browns to 6-8, Hunt voiced his displeasure with what he felt wasn’t maximum effort every play by some of his teammates.
“I feel like there were some plays that everybody didn’t leave their 110% out there the whole play through the whole play, through the whole whistle,” Hunt told reporters. “And we’ve all got to do that if we want to be successful.”
Browns second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield has never been one to mince words and commended Hunt for speaking up, agreeing with what he said.
“In regards to Kareem’s comments, Kareem has been in a place in Kansas City that knows how to win, so his level and his standard of accountability for everybody to do their job is very high,” Mayfield said. “That’s the type of guy you want to bring in here. I don’t think it was anything personal to anybody, but Kareem, bringing him in was a huge part for us raising the standards. We want that. We want guys to be able to have accountability. It does not need to just come from me all the time.”
Head coach Freddie Kitchens also supported Hunt in speaking his mind.
“Kareem is a great competitor,” he said. “I think Kareem puts everything out on the field every time he walks out on the field – practice or games, it does not matter. He loves the game of football, and I do not think there is anything wrong with challenging your teammates. I have said this before about Kareem and (RB) Nick (Chubb), those two are great competitors and they are always working hard. I think that is what it is.”
Hunt was suspended the first eight games of the season, but since returning, he has 38 carries for 167 yards and has racked up 30 receptions and three touchdowns. His running mate Chubb leads the league in rushing with 1,408 yards.
Baker Mayfield: We’re Seeing Who’s in It for ‘Right Reasons’
The Browns have less than a 1% chance of making the postseason, according to ESPN FPI. But even if the Browns are left on the outside looking in on the playoffs, there’s a lot on the line in the final two weeks to set the tone for the future.
“We are seeing exactly who’s in it for the right reasons,” Mayfield told reporters. “There’s still that small, slim chance that we can make it. We have to have a lot of help, but we’re playing to get better. We have to. We’re playing to finish this thing out the right way and the way the people that have worked so long for this season – it has been a long grueling season – but people around here deserve for us to finish the right way.”
Despite some wild storylines during the season that have caused quite a bit of drama from the outside looking in, Mayfield said it hasn’t been hard for the Browns players to stick together.
“That is the one thing that I would say is this locker room has stuck together. We have not had the success on the field so it is very frustrating for us, but within the locker room, very proud of how these guys have handled it, how they have stuck together and kept the same mindset each week. Then it comes to really just translating what we are supposed to do onto the field.”
Browns Looking to Recapture Magic Against Ravens
The last team to beat Baltimore was the Browns way back in Week 4, capturing a 40-25 road win in dominant fashion.
It was the most complete performance of the season by Cleveland, with Mayfield passing for 342 yards and a touchdown, Chubb rushing for 165 yards and three touchdowns and Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry exploding for a season-high 167 yards on eight catches.
“We have shown flashes where we could be great, but we were consistent that game,” Mayfield said. “That is what football is all about. It is about putting all three phases of the ball – offense, defense and special teams – together.”
The plan for the Browns goes back to a message Freddie Kitchens preached in training camp and OTAs — be more physical.
“It is the division opponent,” Mayfield said. “We have to be the most physical team. That is their mantra so we have to do that, as well.”
The Ravens are a 10-point road favorite against the Browns.