Browns Rookie RB Harrison turning heads Steve King 8/4/2006
Keep an eye on Browns rookie running back Jerome Harrison.
The coaches certainly are.
"He's done some nice things," head coach Romeo Crennel said after a recent training camp practice. "He's gotten everyone's attention with his ability to make cuts and his acceleration through the hole."
Harrison scored the first touchdown of the night at the Browns' Family Night practice at Cleveland Browns Stadium Friday.
Crennel said Harrison reminds him of Dave Meggett, who played for the New York Giants when the coach was an assistant there.
"Meggett was a third-down back with explosiveness and quickness," Crennel said. "When you see Harrison make some of those cuts and that acceleration, it kind of reminds you of Meggett."
To put it into perspective for longtime Browns fans, Harrison is reminiscent of Greg Pruitt, a running back/returner who played for the club from 1973-81. They are about the same size - Pruitt was 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds when he played, while Harrison is 5-9 and 199 - and both have strong, thick legs and carry some bulk that allows them to break tackles.
Like Pruitt did, Harrison sets up his blocks nicely and then, in maybe his third or fourth step, he decides where's going, turns on the jets and dares anyone to catch him before he gets there. It's what he did the previous two years at Washington State, when he excelled as both a runner - had 2,800 rushing yards, including a PAC-10-leading and school-record 1,900 last season, and 25 touchdowns - and as a receiver (34 catches for 275 yards). He also returned kickoffs.
The Browns are looking at Harrison, the first of their two fifth-round draft choices, as a third-down or change-of-pace back behind the much bigger Reuben Droughns (5-11, 220), Lee Suggs (6-0, 213) and Williams Green (6-0, 217), and also as a returner.
Harrison will have to pick his choose his spots to shine, which is in his stark contrast to the role he had in college, when he was a workhorse. He was the Cougars offense.
"I don't have any problem at all with that," Harrison said. "There are established, veteran guys ahead of me. As a young player coming in, I'm going to have to wait my turn. I have to be patient."
But at the same time, he wants desperately to see some action. It's the goal of every player.
"Of course, you want to get on the field as a running back first, but if it's as a returner, that's OK," Harrison said. "I just want to play."
None of the Browns draft picks has been more consistently productive than Harrison. There's not a day that goes by when he fails to make some kind of big play.
"It's all about opportunities, and then when you get them, you have to take advantage of them," Harrison said. "You try to make it hard on the coaches."
And he has.
But these are just practices. The Browns will open the preseason next Thursday night at Philadelphia, and that's when Harrison will have a more legitimate stage to prove he's the real deal.
"There are some things that he still has to work on, and he's working on them," Crennel said. "Pretty soon, the story will be told. We'll play the games and find out."
"DAMMIT!!!!! I knew it, I knew it, I KNEW IT!!!!"-Immortal words of The Captain