Browns' Kareem Hunt in line for considerable role in return to action vs. Bills
Hunt is finished serving an eight-game suspension for off-field behavior and ready to make his Browns debut
Former Pro Bowl running back Kareem Hunt is set to have a considerable role Sunday in his debut for the Browns, according to sources with knowledge of the situation, after completing his eight-game suspension for striking a female outside his apartment last year.
Hunt was released by the Chiefs last November shortly after video of the incident emerged on the internet, and signed with the Browns in February. Hunt fulfilled all obligations to secure his reinstatement to the NFL, league sources said, and also opted to take several steps on his own to address his behavior, seeking counseling, meeting with women's groups and participating in community service. Hunt continues to speak to a counselor regularly, sources said, and is now coordinating closely with the Browns to work in the Cleveland community.
Hunt, who is a threat in the running and passing game, could see at least 10 touches in this game, one Browns source estimated, depending on game flow, productivity and conditioning. The Browns offense has sputtered badly during the team's 2-6 start, and while running back Nick Chubb has been the biggest bright spot of that group, Hunt will see the field, too. Cleveland traded talented third-down back Duke Johnson to the Texans due in large part to Hunt's eventual return in Week 10, and Hunt wowed the Browns with his work in the spring and summer prior to requiring sports hernia surgery in late August.
Hunt, 24, led the AFC in rushing as a rookie in 2017 after being selected in the third round out of Toledo and was having another huge season in 2018, helping the Chiefs enter the second half of the season undefeated before getting suspended following a loss to the Rams in Week 11. Video tape of his actions outside his apartment, including kicking at a woman, became public at that point, which led to his suspension after the league's previous investigation into the incident had resulted In no discipline.
The Browns signed Hunt in February while he remained on the commissioner's exempt list as the NFL re-investigated him, anticipating a lengthy suspension. Browns general manager John Dorsey drafted Hunt in Kansas City and was comfortable with his character and ability to stay out of trouble. Hunt's one-year deal is worth a max of just over $1 million and the Browns can retain his rights next year as a restricted free agent.
Hunt spent his first six weeks away from the Browns during his suspension rehabbing from surgery and spending time around his former high school team, I'm told. He was able to practice without restrictions the past two weeks and is ready to spell Chubb, and he could also carry a heavier role if need be. Regardless, he has a definite presence in the game plan against the Bills in what amounts to a must-win game for the Browns if they are to salvage a 2019 season that began with high expectations.
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