Kareem Hunt rock solid in return from suspension

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Cleveland, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – When Kareem Hunt arrived at FirstEnergy Stadium Sunday morning prior to the Browns’ 19-16 win over the Buffalo Bills a present was waiting for him on the top shelf of his locker.

It was a rock.

General manager John Dorsey left it there as a reminder to the running back, whom the Browns’ GM placed faith in not once but twice already in his young career.

“Always stay solid,” Hunt said of the unusual gift. “Always stay solid. You’ve got to be solid as a rock. This rock ain’t going to bend or break.”

Dorsey drafted Hunt out of Toledo as GM of Kansas City, and he signed him in February as GM of the Browns less than 3 months after the Chiefs released him following the publishing of a disturbing security video by TMZ.com of an altercation outside Hunt’s downtown Cleveland apartment.

It showed Hunt pushing and then kicking a woman during the melee.

The incident was investigated along with a few others involving Hunt by the NFL, and ultimately resulted in the 8-game ban he served to start the year.

“Kareem has worked tremendously hard as a person and on the football field,” head coach Freddie Kitchens said. “I am just as proud of Kareem off the field as I am on it. He knows that. I am glad he is here with us. He is very unselfish.”

With his penance paid, Hunt made the most of his return Sunday afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium.

“Honestly, there’s not enough words to describe how I felt,” Hunt said. “It was so emotional. Sometimes I was thankful, sad. A couple of times I thought I was going to shed a few (tears). It felt so good to be back out there. This is what I love to do. I couldn’t be happier to be home, too. It felt good. My first real game playing for the Cleveland Browns we got a ‘W’ so I’m happy.”

As impressive as Hunt was with the ball in his hand, he might have been more ferocious without it.

“My mindset was anytime I get the opportunity to make play I'm going to do it,” Hunt said. “Anytime I can help out the team in whatever it is, blocking, catching passes, running, anytime I can do something to help benefit this team, I'm going to do it and that's my mindset and every time I touch the ball I carry it angry.”

Hunt delivered some back-breaking blocks in the run to help Nick Chubb roll up 116 yards on the ground and in the passing game against the Bills, including the final meaningful offensive possession that ended in Rashard Higgins’ 7-yard TD grab.

“Kareem is such a dynamic player,” quarterback Baker Mayfield said. “He is able to block or run the ball when he needs to. That last drive, he made a great cut block for Nick Chubb on an outside zone play that really sealed the deal for us to get into a good, manageable down and distance. He just does a lot of things well. He wants to win. He is able to sacrifice whatever it takes.”

Hunt, who played high school football just 20 minutes or so from the lakefront, ran 4 times for 30 yards and caught 7 of 9 targets for 44 more yards in the victory, the first for the Browns since the end of September.

“It was a dream always driving down 90, seeing the stadium right along the water,” Hunt said. “I would be like, ‘Wow, that’s a big stadium, way bigger than Willoughby South. I’d love to play in that,’ and honestly it’s a dream come true to be able to play for my hometown and be able to be home.”

As for that rock, it isn't going anywhere.

 “I’m going to keep it with me,” Hunt said. “It’s going to be in there until the season’s over.”