The Browns reunited with Hunt shortly after the season-ending injury to Nick Chubb that shook the team to its core. Luckily, Hunt — who had spent the previous four seasons with the Browns — was a free agent, waiting for the right situation.
“The product comes from the work,” Hunt put as a caption on Instagram on September 21.
The Browns announced the decision that Hunt would play on Friday.
“Kareem is going to play,” Kevin Stefanski said. “He’s ready to play. He’s in good shape. I think how much and doing what, we’ll determine that over the next 48 hours, but I think he’s comfortable with everything that we have up.”
The Browns decided not to bring Hunt back this offseason, instead handing the No. 2 running back duties over to Jerome Ford. But the injury to Chubb opened the door for Hunt to return and he signed a one-year deal worth up to $4 million.
Kareem Hunt Wants to Bring Super Bowl to Cleveland
Hunt had a few opportunities this offseason as a free agent but landing back with his hometown Browns was ideal. He has big goals for Cleveland.
“I’m from Cleveland, born and raised, like I always say. And I still want to bring a championship here and help contribute,” Hunt said shortly after inking the deal. “That was my biggest goal for the past four years to do everything I can to you know, bring one to the hometown. So, it feels good. They have a great team. The team is great. Love the defense, love the offense that we have. And I’m excited to see us put it all together and gel it together and keep working to get to the end goal.”
The Browns felt confident that adding Hunt would come with a swift integration period, considering his familiarity with the team.
“When you add players that are free agents, oftentimes you have to ramp them up and get them ready to play. And we have done that. You can do that in this case,” Stefanski said on September 20. “There’s obviously some newness that Kareem is learning but he can pick up things very quickly. So that definitely factored into it.”
Jerome Ford Still Lead Back for Browns
Hunt isn’t expected to take over the lead running back role, with Ford still expected to be the No. 1 back in Cleveland. Ford has just 39 carries for 154 in his career, the majority of that coming through the first two games of this season. But the Browns sound confident he can thrive in an expanded role.
“I go back to the spring and I think I’ve told you guys I was very impressed with how he handled the spring mentally, physically, and really jumped into that role as a protector and understanding all the things that go with protection,” Stefanski said. “I think all of our players constantly have to stay ready because they never know when their number is going to be called and in what role. Sometimes roles change and adjust and grow throughout the season. I think Jerome’s an example of a guy who’s always been ready.”
Ford went over 100 yards for the first time in his career against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week in a 26-22 loss. However, the majority of that came on one run, with Ford ripping off a 69-yard gain in the second half.