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Browns 2013 Position Review: Running backs

Feb 06, 2014 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

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The Morning Kickoff …

2013 in review: As new coach Mike Pettine rounds out his coaching staff, the new assistants have to acquaint themselves with the players they inherit. They want to conclude this extensive video review of every player on the roster before the team departs to Indianapolis for the NFL combine Feb. 19-25.

Another in a series reviewing the team’s position groups.

Position: Running back.

Players under contract (though year): Edwin Baker (2015), Dion Lewis (2014), Chris Ogbonnaya (2014), Fozzy Whittaker (2015).

Players not under contract: Willis McGahee.

Total snaps (incl. special teams): Ogbonnaya, 704; McGahee, 265; Whittaker, 259; Baker, 97; Lewis, 0.

Games started: Ogbonnaya, 7; McGahee, 6; Baker, 2; Whittaker, 2;  Lewis, 0.

Analysis: After the trade of Trent Richardson, this position devolved into the weakest unit on the roster. One piece in upgrading it could be Lewis, who missed the season with a broken leg. Lewis figured prominently under Norv Turner, who saw him as a Darren Sproles, scatback specialist. It remains to be seen if new coordinator Kyle Shanahan envisions a role for Lewis in his one-cut, zone-blocking running game. Such are the perils of changing coaches after one season; players who don’t fit the new scheme could be banished. Baker was the fifth different starter at running back (Richardson started the first two games) and he left a favorable impression with his quick-to-the-hole, north-south running style. Seeing action in only three games, Baker finished third in rushing yards and matched McGahee’s team-high two rushing touchdowns. Whittaker’s most memorable play was failing to fall on an onside kick in the late collapse to New England. Ogbonnaya again demonstrated his usefulness in a variety of roles, but definitely should not be miscast as a fullback. McGahee said he wants to play four more years, but he finished the year on fumes and lost his biggest advocate in the organization, former coach Rob Chudzinski. The Shanahan offense no doubt will result in the return of a natural, lead-blocking fullback to the roster. Owen Marecic, anyone?

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@espncleveland.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

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