Instead of lobbying for a larger role in Cleveland’s offense, running back Kareem Hunt is hoping to continue to share the workload with Nick Chubb. Last season, the duo combined to gain 2,362 total yards and 23 touchdowns while helping the Browns finish third in the NFL in rushing.
Hunt, speaking recently from his youth football camp at Willoughby South High School, publicly advocated for the Browns to “pay” Chubb, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract.
“Please pay that man,” Hunt said, via Dan Labbe of Cleveland.com. “He’s a freak of nature. And he’s a brother to me, and I love what he does on and off the field. Just a great person and teammate.”
The league’s leading rusher in 2017, Hunt feels the duo can become the seventh pair of teammates to each rush for over 1,000 yards in the same season. In doing so, the Browns would become the second franchise to have two different sets of running back accomplish that fear. In 1985, Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack rushed for 1,002 and 1,104 yards respectively while helping the Browns capture an AFC Central division title during Marty Schottenheimer’s first full season as Cleveland’s coach.
“I believed it was possible last year, too, but some things happened,” Hunt said. “We’ll learn from it and get better and hopefully continue to put in good work this year.”
The fourth running back selected in the 2018 NFL Draft, Chubb has blossomed into one of the NFL’s best running backs. In fact, the former Georgia Bulldog recently came in at No. 6 on CBS Sports NFL writer Patrik Walker’s list of the league’s top 10 running backs. Last season, despite missing four games to injury, Chubb still earned his second consecutive Pro Bowl selection last season after rushing for 1,067 yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging 5.6 yards per carry. In Cleveland’s wild-card playoff win over the Steelers, Chubb amassed 145 all-purpose yards that included a game-clinching, 40-yard touchdown off of a screen pass from Baker Mayfield.
Chubb recently expressed his desire to remain in Cleveland during the team’s mandatory minicamp.
“It would mean a lot,” Chubb said, per the Associated Press. “Cleveland drafted me however many years ago it was and trusted me and put their faith in me to come here and help build this culture.
“I feel like Cleveland is where I want to be and hopefully, everything can work out in that direction.”
Chubb and Hunt will again be asked to be key contributors in what Browns fans are hoping will be a memorable 2021 season. The Browns’ championship hopes have been buoyed by an impressive offseason.
In free agency, they signed safety John Johnson III and cornerback Troy Hill, two players who helped the Rams boast the league’s top-ranked pass defense last season. The Browns further strengthened their defense with the signings of veterans Jadeveon Clowney, Takk McKinley and Malik Jackson. Cleveland’s defense got even better after selecting cornerback Greg Newsome II in the first round and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the second round.
Lost in the shuffle of Cleveland’s draft picks was former Auburn receiver Anthony Schwartz and former Cincinnati offensive tackle James Hudson. Both players will look to serve as valuable depth for a Browns offense that is filled with top-end talent.
Cleveland’s offense will welcome back Odell Beckham Jr. after Beckham missed most of the 2020 season with an injury. The Browns also have high hopes for Mayfield, whose contract may be extended before the Browns face the Chiefs in Week 1.
“I hope it is significantly better,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski recently said when asked about his expectation of Mayfield for the 2021 season, via ESPN’s Jake Trotter. “He has heard these plays over and over again. We have streamlined concepts, and we have tried to adjust what we do based on his strengths and our players’ strengths. I would hope he is much more comfortable from that perspective. That is what time allows you to do — time together.”