BEREA – Backup running back Montario Hardesty has carved out a role in the offense and looks less and less like a wasted draft pick.
Hardesty rushed 10 times for 52 yards Sunday in a win over the Chiefs with a long of 25. For the season, he has 215 yards and a 4.7 average per carry.
“I’m just trying to come in and make plays for the team,” he said Thursday. “When I’m in there I’ve gotta make the most out of it.”
General manager Tom Heckert traded two fifth-round picks in 2010 to move up to draft Hardesty in the second round. He missed all of his rookie year following knee surgery, and a torn calf limited him to 10 games, 88 rushes and a 3.0 average last year. He’s healthy this season and it shows.
“I’m just following the blockers and running to the holes,” he said. “That’s all.”
Hardesty didn’t get his first carry until Week 6 against the Bengals when rookie starter Trent Richardson injured rib cartilage. Hardesty rushed 15 times for 56 yards and his lone touchdown.
He’s been the No. 2 back since, getting from two to 10 carries a game. He’s had runs of 14, 12, 13, 19 and 25 yards.
“I’ve got a guy like Trent Richardson that’s in there before me, and he’s wearing out defenses,” Hardesty said. “He’s wearing on defenses and when I come in they have to adjust.”
Richardson leads the team with 869 yards and nine rushing touchdowns, but has averaged a pedestrian 3.5 yards a carry. He’s been a plodder, getting small chunks of yardage and moving the pile. He has only six runs of 15 yards.
Despite the per-carry discrepancy, offensive coordinator Brad Childress doesn’t plan to give any of Richardson’s carries to Hardesty.
“We’re not there, certainly we’re not there,” he said.
Hardesty let out a big laugh when asked if he was being used properly. He recognized where the reporter was trying to take him.
“I’m playing my role,” he said. “When it’s time for me to go in I go in. It’s not my decision at all.”
Childress likes Hardesty’s production in a limited role.
“I like the fact that he’s been able to come in and explode and just give us a different pace,” Childress said. “It’s nice to have two different kinds of backs, because the defense kind of sets its cleats in the ground for one style run. Then somebody else comes in, and all of a sudden it’s a little different style running.
“Montario’s been able to have some explosive plays and give us production. Not ridiculous production, but enough production where you’re not afraid to say give him the next series.”
BETTER BY THE DAY
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (knee sprain) was limited for the second straight practice, but coach Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said he looked healthier than he did Wednesday.
“I think Robert is going to be able to show us he can move well,” Kyle told Washington reporters. “It’s more: Is his knee stable enough? And can he protect himself in there? And is there a risk of a further injury?”
Shurmur said he isn’t spending his time looking for Griffin updates or wondering if he’ll play Sunday. The Redskins aren’t expected to name a starter before gameday.
“No, because I see how I do things around here,” he said. “You guys (the media) have got a really tight net, but every once in awhile some stuff slips through.
“You’re talking about a guy that’s a highly conditioned, very limber guy. I’m not going to try to predict on this. I think it’s a waste of good thought.”
Shurmur was asked about the importance of hiring a quality staff and said his first phone call when he got the job last year was to the Eagles to see if Dick Jauron would be available to become his defensive coordinator.
“I admired him first off as a person, as a teacher and then, of course, his knowledge and what he’d accomplished,” Shurmur said. “I thought he would be an outstanding guy to inspire our guys on defense.
“The leadership that Dick provides is just outstanding. I like that quiet confidence in a person and I lean on that.”
Shurmur didn’t hire Childress until after the 2011 season. Shurmur handled both jobs in his first season and reiterated that was a mistake.
“One of the things I would have done differently is last year I would have hired an offensive coordinator, which would have made my staff complete a year ago,” Shurmur said.
Childress said they talked before the 2011 season.
“He wasn’t ready to hire an offensive coordinator,” Childress said. “What went on with me was I gained about 30 pounds and drank a lot of flowery drinks with straws in them and wore a big hat.”
All 53 Browns practiced again. Left tackle Joe Thomas (back), receiver Joshua Cribbs (knee) and defensive end Juqua Parker (knee) were limited.
** Childress was asked if he wanted to be a head coach again. He led the Vikings from 2006-10.
“If the timing is right, if the people are right, that’d be great,” he said. “If not, I can say that I’ve been there, done that.”
** Rookie defensive end Kendrick Adams (6-foot-5, 250 pounds) was signed to the practice squad. He was a two-year starter at LSU.
** The Browns will host their annual U.S. Marine Corps Reserve “Touchdown for Tots” collection Sunday. Fans are encouraged to make a financial donation or donate a new toy at each gate of the stadium.
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