Final countdown: Kareem Hunt’s been counting down days ‘till his return

Browns RB understands he’s “under a microscope”

Daryl Ruiter
November 07, 2019 - 4:29 pm
Categories: 

Berea, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Browns fans weren’t the only ones counting down the days until Kareem Hunt’s 8-game suspension expired and the talented back would make his debut in Cleveland.

Hunt has been too.

“I’m just excited to be back on the football field,” Hunt said. “I know it’s my hometown, and I love them to death, but it’s just [going to] feel a bit different touching that field and hitting somebody again.”

353 days have passed since he carried 14 times for 70 yards and caught 3 passes for 41 yards and a touchdown in a 59-54 Kansas City Chiefs loss to the Los Angeles Rams. 11 days later he would be released hours after TMZ.com published surveillance video of an altercation outside his downtown Cleveland apartment taken in Feb. 2018 of him pushing and kicking a woman.

The NFL investigated multiple off the field incidents, including an alleged altercation later that summer at a bar n Put in Bay. Luckily for Hunt, no charges were filed in either incident.

So how is Hunt a batter man today than that ugly February morning or late night in June?

“Honestly, I just had a lot of time to sit and reflect, just look at the big picture,” Hunt said. “I’ve been able to stay on top of things like thinking before you act and not react to the little things ad just keeping your emotions to yourself.

“I feel like my emotions were very high last year and now I kinda settle down a little bit.”

Browns general manager John Dorsey, who drafted Hunt out of Toledo in the third round of the 2017 Draft, gave Hunt a second chance in Cleveland with the Browns, mere miles from where he grew up on the east side and starred at Willoughby South High School.

Since joining the Browns, Hunt has vowed to turn over a new leaf. He’s undergone counseling, been baptized and visited schools in the area where he’s talked openly about what led to his 8-game ban.

“I’m under a microscope and I’m not trying to put anything in jeopardy,” Hunt said. “342 days, I had a lot of time to think about if I get in this situation how I’m going to handle this or if I get in this situation how I’m going to handle that. You get a lot of time to really reflect and think about those things and then you get a lot of time to [reflect on] the situation and what you could’ve done better.”

Hunt led the NFL in rushing as a rookie with 1,327 yards in 2017 and 8 touchdowns. He added 53 catches for 455 yards and 3 more scores.

In 27 games Hunt racked up 2,984 all-purpose yards and scored 25 touchdowns.

From a pure football standpoint, it’s understandable why Dorsey signed him to a league-minimum deal.

“I can’t say everybody in the world deserves a second chance, but a lot of us deserve a second chance, just with the circumstances,” receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said. “I’m just happy that he’s here. He’s a good dude and I’m just looking forward to playing with him, seeing what he’s capable of doing. We’ve all seen it. I think we’re all pretty excited about that.”

The time away from the game has given Hunt a newfound respect for the opportunity that is playing in the National Football League.

“It means so much to me,” Hunt said. “I just know that I really appreciate the fact that I get to go out and do this every day. It made me really appreciate [it]. It made me appreciate waking up every morning and coming here to work, even though there were days I didn’t like doing it, but now it’s like yeah I get to go to work and it’s a great feeling.”

How Hunt fits into the Browns offense remains to be seen.

Nick Chubb has averaged 5.2 yards per carry and rushed for 803 yards in 8 games. Chubb leads the team with 6 touchdowns. The Browns have just 7 touchdowns through the air.

“Nick’s a freak,” Hunt said. “Whenever I get the opportunity and my name is called, I’m going to get in there and not let down.”

Mix in Hunt, and the Browns – on paper – should have one of the most lethal running back combos in the league. Then again, we said the same thing about Beckham and Jarvis Landry at receiver.

“Yeah that’ll be something special,” Hunt said. “Nick’s a great back, and so is Dontrell [Hilliard] and those other guys. I’m excited to be back out there too with them. I love the way he runs the football. I’m always cheering for him and [am] his biggest hype man.”

At 2-6, the season is in serious jeopardy. To make the playoffs they’ll have to do something that hasn’t been done in nearly 50 years – win 8 straight.

“I know it’s been tough but all we can do is look forward and take it game by game and control what we can control,” Hunt said. “We’ve got to stay positive and keep playing football and just take it play by play. Don’t try and get it all back in one play, just focus on the next down, the next play, the next game and I feel like we should be fine.”