Over the final month of last season, Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles and Cleveland’s Jerome Harrison were the leading rushers in all of football. As we know, that didn’t earn Charles much trust or even a starting job from the Chiefs coaching staff. As The Plain Dealer reports, Harrison has had to deal with even more hurdles than Charles.
In the off-season, the Browns traded for Peyton Hillis and drafted Montario Hardesty. Even after Hardesty went down with a season-ending knee injury in the last preseason game, Harrison found himself sharing time with Hillis in the first game of the new season. Harrison, in fact, was on the bench as the game began.
He admitted he was a little surprised, but he doesn’t feel the need to talk to the coaches about his role.
“It’s only Week 1, so no,” Harrison said. “All I can do is hope things change. If I feel like I need to say something, I will, if it gets to that point. But I’m hoping it never does.”
Coach Eric Mangini said this week he expects Harrison and Hillis will continue to share the rushing load.
“I like what both guys can do with the ball in their hands. I like what both guys can do in the passing game,” Mangini said.
“I have total confidence in either one, so whoever we have in, if those plays are rolling, I’m happy to continue rolling with them. It’s a good situation. I really think that both guys are going to do good things when they are in the game.”
You could replace Mangini with Haley and no one would doubt that those words came from his last press conference. It’s really scary how similar these two situations are and how each franchise continues to handle them.
There’s no reason to believe that Charles or Harrison will receive more carries this week, though you would think they would. If you are Cleveland, you hope that Harrison can have a repeat of his record setting performance from last season. For Kansas City, there are few things that will help a struggling passing game than Charles and his perpetual ability to take the ball to the house.
I will say that it must be a little easier for Charles to accept. His starts and carries are being stolen by a player in Thomas Jones that ran for over 1,400 yards last season. How can Harrison not be seething? Peyton Hillis? He has one game of more than 100 yards and a career long of 19. Not exactly stats that scream “starter”.
Both Charles and Harrison will take the field Sunday looking to show that they deserve to be No. 1 and not 1a or 1b.