Browns RB Kareem Hunt Sends Message After Monster Game

Kareem Hunt

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Kareem Hunt of the Cleveland Browns and Nick Chubb.

Kareem Hunt had an eventful lead-up to Week 1 but the Cleveland Browns running back put that all behind him and helped lead his team to a 26-24 victory on Sunday with a big performance.

Hunt carried the ball 11 times for 46 yards but also caught four passes for 24 yards, accounting for a pair of touchdowns — one rushing, one receiving.

Hunt’s running mate Nick Chubb racked up 141 hard-earned yards on 22 carries and their partnership really powered the Browns’ offense for most of the game. Hunt said he and Chubb discussed the situation they were in heading into the matchup with Jacoby Brissett at QB and they knew what they had to do.

“Nick and I talked before the game and we knew it would have to go through us to find a way to win the game,” Hunt told Josina Anderson of CBS Sports in a 1-on-1 interview after the game. “Both of us were doing our best to put points on the board. That’s what we believed in — that’s what we’ve always believed in. If the game runs through us, we’re going to win.”

Hunt Entered Year Amid Contract Dispute With Browns

There was a bit of uncertainty surrounding Hunt heading into the year, with the former rushing leader requesting a trade as he searched for a new, long-term deal.

Hunt is in the final year of a two-year extension he signed in 2020 and has been very open that he wants to get paid. A game like he had against the Panthers makes it apparent that he’s an integral part of the offense, but he’ll have to stay healthy. Last year Hunt dealt with calf and ankle issues that limited him to eight games and he notched just 386 yards and five touchdowns.

Prior to taking the field, Hunt made it clear that the dispute is behind him and he’s focused on helping the Browns win.

“It is what it is. I am going to control what I can control, and that is going out there and playing football, which I enjoy doing. I have done it all of my life,” Hunt said.

The Browns were able to mix it up and play both Hunt and Chubb at the same time against the Panthers, something they had done sparingly in the past. On the touchdown grab, Hunt lined up at fullback. Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt praised Hunt prior to the matchup and promised both of the backs would be involved.

“We love him as a runner, 1 and 1A really in the backfield,” Van Pelt said of Hunt. “Both guys are great, great runners, but he brings a skillset that you can use elsewhere as well.

“We will find a way to put the best 11 guys on the field each time. It may not be all the time and it may not be at all this week, but we will find ways to get those guys involved.”

Hunt Praises Baker Mayfield After Hard-Fought Battle

Aside from Hunt, a big part of the narrative heading into the matchup was Baker Mayfield’s “revenge.” The Browns traded their former No. 1 overall pick to Carolina in the offseason and he almost made them pay for it with some late heroics.

However, a clutch 58-yard field goal from rookie kicker Cade York bailed the Browns out and the franchise got its first win in an opener since 2004.

While Mayfield wasn’t able to guide his team to victory, Hunt still had praise for his former QB and what he did to keep his Panthers in it.

“Baker is a tough quarterback. He ain’t never going to give up until it says zeroes on the clock. That’s Baker for you,” Hunt told Anderson. “I give him respect for going out there and battling, fighting until the clock hit zero.”

With the Mayfield-saga behind them, the Browns will turn their focus to the Jets, who they face next Sunday.