Cleveland Browns RB Montario Hardesty Enjoying Football Again

Cleveland Browns running back Montario Hardesty is all smiles at practice these days. He's taking snaps and playing with the first team while No. 3 pick Trent Richardson recovers from knee surgery. Not to say he's happy because Richardson is hurt --- he's just enjoying playing football again, as he told the Associated Press.

Apart from a fumble that led to a Green Bay touchdown during the Browns' preseason win last weekend, Hardesty looked good, rushing for 45 yards and a touchdown. His bright outlook is news because injuries have deterred the former second-round pick's career so far.

"I was miserable," Hardesty said. "I'd watch film of myself and say, 'That's not what I want to do.' I'd see where I was supposed to go and saw myself go somewhere else — because I couldn't get there right. I was healthy, just not really healthy. I could play, but not the way I know I can play. I feel stronger, quicker, more confident than any time since I've been in Cleveland."

Browns coach Pat Shurmur is pleased with he sees from Hardesty, even with the fumble.

"We can't have ball security issues," Shurmur said. "He knows that. He came back after a very bad play, had some good hard runs, did a nice job on pass protection and I think he's making progress."

The Browns host the Philadelphia Eagles for their third preseason game on Friday.

For more on the Cleveland Browns, check out their SB Nation blog at Dawgs By Nature. More news and analysis on the NFL as preseason begins can be found over at SB Nation's dedicated NFL hub.

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