With the 2015 NFL Draft quickly approaching, the distractions and noise surrounding...
Cleveland Browns Hope to Have Struck Gold on Waivers With Two New Running Backs
The 53-man roster cuts came and went, with the Cleveland Browns being among the busiest teams on the waiver wire. With the addition of six players, the Cleveland Browns had to make several tough cuts of players who had previously made the active roster. While the Browns have parted ways with running backs Miguel Maysonet, Brandon Jackson, Jamaine Cook and Robbie Rouse this year, as well as placing Dion Lewis and Montario Hardesty on injured reserve, they have quickly filled the void with two more able-bodied backs.
While Browns fans were panicking with the lack of depth at running back on the roster, especially given Trent Richardson’s recent bout with injuries, Cleveland’s front office was acting quickly. The decision-makers in Berea inked a pair of collegiate standouts in Western Kentucky’s Bobby Rainey, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, and Arkansas’ Dennis Johnson, formerly of the Houston Texans.
While many may think these are just depth fillers on a depleted depth chart, it is worth noting that they are favored by this front office over the likes of Jackson and Cook, so let’s dig deeper and take a better look into the two newest sets of legs that will take the field in FirstEnergy Stadium.
First up is Rainey.
At 5’9″ and 212 pounds, immediately people will look to label him as a scatback or a change of pace back. This simply is not true though, as Rainey brings very much a similar skill-set and build to that of his former teammate, Ray Rice. Just as Rice was a workhorse in college himself, Rainey led the nation in rushing attempts with 340, a staggering number for a player his size. He holds school records at Western Kentucky in rushing yards in a season with 1,695 yards, as well as most rushing yards in a career with 4,523. Since the year 2000, only eight players have racked up back-to-back 1,500-yard seasons in the FBS, that list includes Rice (Rutgers), LaDanian Tomlinson (TCU), DeAngelo Williams (Memphis), Darren McFadden (Arkansas) and Steven Jackson (Oregon State). Rainey was also known as one of the premier kick returners in college football, a position that he could immediately fill for the Browns in wake of losing Lewis to injured reserve.
The other back obtained was Johnson.
At 5’7″ and 193 pounds, he is more the change-of-pace back you expect to fill the Lewis void. If this writer had to guess, Johnson was signed to try to lock down the kick returner role. While at Arkansas, he returned 119 kicks for 2,784 yards–a solid 23.4 yard average with three touchdowns. Over five seasons with the team, he rushed 345 times for 2,036 yards and 13 touchdowns. While that works out to a 5.9 yard per carry average, one would have to question if his frame could hold up at the NFL level. He was not a big pass-catcher in school either, grabbing 63 receptions for 510 yards with four trips to the endzone, making him potentially just a kick returner for the Browns.
While still curious about the potential of Maysonet and Cook, on paper, it looks like the Cleveland Browns just drastically improved their roster on Sunday. With players like developmental pass-catching tight end MarQueis Gray, blocking tight end Keavon Milton, offensive lineman Patrick Lewis and ILB Brandon Magee rounding out the waiver claims, the Browns have shown that they are not content with anything less than the best possible roster they can field, and they are not afraid to make changes.
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