Montario Hardesty is healthy for the first time in his NFL career, and he's giving the Cleveland Browns an excellent change of pace to Trent Richardson in the backfield. Offensive coordinator Brad Childress likes the way that Hardesty gives opponents another thing to worry about when dealing with the Browns offense:
"I like the fact that he’s been able to come in and explode and give us a different pace. It’s nice to have two different types of backs. The defense sets its cleats in the ground for one style, and then it’s all of a sudden a different style."
Hardesty is averaging 4.7 yards a carry this year, which he thinks is due to health and opponents loading up to stop Richardson:
"When I come in, they have to adjust and sometimes I go for the cutbacks more and do different things. I feel like having Trent in there before me kind of opens things up. And I feel like it’s my role to come in and make plays like that."
Hardesty is in his third NFL season out of Tennessee, and he missed his entire rookie year in 2010 with a knee injury. This season, he has 46 carries for 215 yards and a touchdown, which was his first in as an NFL player. All of those touches this season have come in the past seven games. Last week against the Chiefs, he rushed for 52 yards on 10 carries, including one run for 25 yards.
The Browns host the Washington Redskins on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.