Browns RB Pushing for Larger Role Amid Nick Chubb Uncertainty

Browns RB Nyheim Hines wants a larger role in Kevin Stefanski's offense.

Getty Images Browns RB Nyheim Hines wants a larger role in Kevin Stefanski's offense.

New Cleveland Browns running back Nyheim Hines takes exception to being called a return specialist.

Hines signed with the Browns this offseason and wants to earn a role within the offense. He’ll likely still be a factor in the return game, but the 27-year-old thinks he brings more to the table.

“I mean, I’m not the biggest guy in the world, but I’m not going to be scared,” Hines said on May 22. “I’m going to put my head down there. I’m known for my pass catching abilities, so the return specialist thing was kind of disrespectful, honestly, I don’t know. I don’t know any other return specialist who has over 230 catches in five years.”

Hines does have a solid resume as a pass-catching back. He’s notched 240 catches in his five seasons for 1,778 yards and 8 touchdowns. He’s never had more than 89 rushing attempts in a season. Hines has rushed for 1202 yards and 10 touchdowns over his career.

It is hard to ignore Hines’ abilities as a return man. He has returned four kicks for touchdowns — two punts and two kickoffs.

“I think people kind of forgot that in Buffalo I was traded, only played ten games there, had to learn a new offense, didn’t have the opportunity last year to play,” Hines said. “So, I’m really excited to go out there and prove the offensive threat I am. And I’m just as big of a threat on offense as I am in the return game if it’s passing, catching, kicking, or in empty.”

Hines missed all of last season with a torn ACL. He’s expected to be ready for training camp.

Browns Awaiting News on Nick Chubb

The Browns’ big question in the running back room is Nick Chubb. The four-time Pro Bowler is on the mend from a pair of knee surgeries, but his return timeline is still uncertain.

Chubb has rushed for 6,511 yards and 48 touchdowns over 77 games. He’ll take on the lion’s share of work once he returns. Browns insider Mary Kay Cabot thinks the team will get a better idea on Chubb’s status closer to training camp.

“Chubb won’t be participating in OTAs or the minicamp from a team drills standpoint, but he’s been around all offseason rehabbing the knee and providing inspiration to his teammates,” Cabot reported. “He also spends some time during the offseason training at his high school, Cedartown in Georgia, and could be back and forth during OTAs. But he’s been running for several weeks, and looks good. If all goes as planned, he’ll test the twice-reconstructed left knee during training camp, and work toward a return to the field as soon as possible.”

Chubb and the Browns agreed to a restructured contract this offseason. The move chopped down Chubb’s base salary of around $12 million and converted much of that into incentives. It lowered Chubb’s cap hit to a manageable $6.275 million.

Browns Happy With Running Back Depth

The Browns feel prepared for a situation where Chubb misses a chunk of time next season. In addition to Hines, the Browns also added D’Onta Foreman. He’s expected to play a short-yardage-type role. Also in the mix are Jerome Ford and Pierre Strong Jr.

“Depth is important at every position, we were really pleased with that room last year. I thought Jerome and Pierre, in particular, did an incredible job filling in last year,” Browns GM Andrew Berry said on April 18. “They got obviously a lot of time and a lot of reps last year and feel very good about their skill sets. We’ve added a couple of guys to that room with differing skill sets that can complement those guys, but we think we’re in a pretty strong spot.”

Even when Chubb returns, Hines figures to have a solid role in the offense as a pass-catching back. The Browns will have to sort out the rest of the depth chart when Chubb is back and healthy.

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