Harrison, who ran for 286 yards against Kansas City in December, was traded to the Eagles on Wednesday afternoon for fellow 27-year-old running back Mike Bell. The Eagles announced the trade and the Browns confirmed it, pending physicals.
Bell (6-foot, 225 pounds) was scheduled to arrive today. He had 16 rushes for 28 yards with the Eagles after signing as a restricted free agent from Super Bowl champion New Orleans.
Harrison had been disgruntled since he didn’t start the opener in Tampa Bay. He rushed for 561 yards to finish 2009, the eighth-highest three-game total in NFL history, yet began the opener on the bench and carried only nine times.
That followed an offseason where Peyton Hillis was added in a trade and Montario Hardesty was drafted in the second round to add competition at running back. Despite the great finish to 2009 in the first extended opportunity of his career, it was clear the Browns weren’t sold on Harrison.
His only real chance in 2010 came in Week 2 against the Chiefs. He rushed 16 times for 33 yards and injured a thigh. He was inactive the following week, didn’t get a carry in Week 4 and rushed six times for 6 yards Sunday.
Coach Eric Mangini denied last week that Harrison was in his doghouse.
On his way to practice Wednesday, Harrison reiterated that he wasn’t getting the carries he wanted. He practiced in the half-hour open to the media.
“This is better for him,” said agent Charles Tucker, who added Harrison didn’t ask for a trade. “He wants to play. If they’re not going to use him …”
Harrison had 31 carries for 91 yards (2.9 average) this season. He rushed for 862 yards and five touchdowns last season and tied for the team lead with 34 catches.
In nine starts and 51 games with the Browns, he carried 302 times for 1,401 yards (4.6) and six touchdowns. He was a fifth-round pick out of Washington State in 2006 by former general manager Phil Savage.
“The big homie JC on to Philly for a fresh start,” running back James Davis posted on Twitter.com. “Congrats man and the RB’s in Cleveland wish u the best!!”
Davis and Bell will compete for time behind Hillis.
Cleveland is Bell’s fifth team in five NFL seasons. He rushed for a career-best 677 yards and eight touchdowns as an undrafted rookie in Denver in 2006, and had 654 yards and five touchdowns for the Saints last year. Bell was slowed by calf and hamstring injuries in training camp in Philadelphia and was used little after the emergence of LeSean McCoy.
Hillis didn’t practice Wednesday, but Mangini said he’ll practice today or Friday and play Sunday against the Steelers.
With rookie quarterback Colt McCoy expected to make his first start, it would make sense for the Cleveland coaches to try to alleviate some of the pressure by using more Wildcat formation with Joshua Cribbs.
“He can succeed and do better for us with momentum on his side,” Cribbs said of McCoy. “That’s what the Wildcat is going to help him do.”
Cribbs rushed out of the Wildcat eight times for 87 yards, including a 37-yarder, in a 13-6 win over the Steelers on Dec. 10 in frigid Cleveland Browns Stadium.
“They just couldn’t stop it,” Cribbs said. “Our guys were blocking upfront pretty good, and we executed better than they did. They’re going to be prepared to try to stop it and we’ll go at it until they will.”
The Browns have always kept the quarterback on the field when running the Wildcat. He calls the play in the huddle, then splits wide. They could try it without McCoy this week, letting Cribbs call the plays.
“It will open a lot of stuff up and I think we’re gonna explore a lot of that this week,” he said.
RATLIFF PICKS BROWNS
Quarterback Brett Ratliff, who’s expected to back up McCoy on Sunday, chose to sign with the Browns on Tuesday rather than New England, which offered to promote him from its practice squad.
“There’s a greater opportunity for me to get in a game,” said Ratliff, who’s never played in a regular-season game. “I’ll be No. 2. I just couldn’t pass that up. As a competitive athlete, player, that’s just the opportunity I’ve been waiting for.”
Ratliff played under Mangini from 2007-09 and was cut by the Browns at the end of training camp. He made a stop in Jacksonville before landing on the Patriots practice squad.
“It’s definitely nice to be back into something I know,” Ratliff said of the offensive system. “Instead of having to be stressed about what to know, what to learn, I know it. I’m comfortable and I’m excited to be here.”
Mangini left open the possibility of starting Ratliff vs. the Steelers.
“Brett does have those built-up reps, but Colt has been with us throughout the whole season and he’s gotten quite a few reps with the ones and with the offense in general,” Mangini said. “I think both are facing some challenges of lack of game experience.
“Brett’s a guy I have a lot of confidence in that I’ve seen for a long time and if he gets a chance, I feel like he’ll be successful.”
Eleven Browns didn’t practice: quarterbacks Jake Delhomme (ankle) and Seneca Wallace (ankle), Hillis (thigh), defensive linemen Shaun Rogers (elbow), Robaire Smith (back) and Kenyon Coleman (knee), center Alex Mack (shoulder), right guard Floyd Womack (knee), right tackle John St. Clair (ankle), tight end Robert Royal (shoulder) and special teamer Nick Sorensen (calf).
Cribbs (ankle), safety Abram Elam (knee) and left tackle Joe Thomas (shin) were limited.
Mangini was asked if Delhomme and Wallace were walking better after limping badly following the game Sunday.
“Each day they walk a little bit better,” he said. “They’re moonwalking in the meeting, electric slide, we got it all.”
With the exception of the quarterbacks, Mangini expects most of the guys who didn’t practice to return today or Friday and play Sunday.
Mangini said he had not been contacted by the league regarding the Brett Favre sexual harassment situation. He was the coach of the Jets at the time of the alleged incident.
** Linebacker Kaluka Maiava said surgery to repair a torn right anterior cruciate ligament went well and the expected recovery time is six months. Maiava had the surgery Tuesday in Atlanta, and the patellar tendon was used. He was already bending the knee.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or email@example.com.