Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 9/6/13
It’s widely accepted that running backs take the most physical abuse and have the shortest shelf lives of any position in the NFL. So, while the Cleveland Browns begin their season against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday with Trent Richardson, the third overall pick in the 2012 draft, as their starter at halfback, one can’t help but wonder what in the world the front office is thinking with their backfield construction. Richardson has the potential to be a very solid foundation, and that is always the first step in erecting any structure. But a few unfortunate injuries, along with some questionable decisions from the front office, have threatened to keep this metaphorical building from becoming anything more than an underground bomb shelter. Entering training camp, the Browns backfield depth looked like it could build a skyscraper, or, at the very least, a five story apartment complex with nice exposed brick, a private gym, and all sorts of other appealing amenities. This was primed to be a backfield anyone would be more than happy to call home. But then reality hit. Dion Lewis, who looked especially promising as a third down change of pace/scatback type player and also showed flashes on special teams returning kickoffs, fractured his leg in the team’s second preseason game. Montario Hardesty remembered that he is Montario Hardesty and underwent a rapid progression of injury. First it was a sore hamstring that sidelined him, followed closely by a sprained thumb that came on just his second rep in team drills after returning from the aforementioned hamstring knock. Finally, he put us all out of our misery for this season and underwent arthroscopic knee surgery that earned him another trip to season-ending injured reserve. So that eliminated two important floors from the initial blueprint, leaving the Browns with Richardson, veteran Brandon Jackson, and two undrafted rookie free agents in Jamaine Cook and Miguel Maysonet. The two rookies were unsurprisingly cut – sometimes budget (roster) restraints force an architect to chop some of his planned features – and then Jackson was released on Sunday after posting an unimpressive 43 yards on 28 preseason carries. So, at midday Sunday, the Browns had a grand total of one running back (Richardson) and one former running back who has been converted to fullback (Chris Ogbonnaya) on the roster. Say what they will about Richardson being the team’s offensive bell cow, but it is simply folly to carry only one running back on the roster. How would the front office address this issue? Not by signing an experienced NFL performer like Willis McGahee, Michael Turner, Cedric Benson, or former Ohio State Buckeye Chris “Beanie” Wells. That would have been too logical. Instead, Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi opted to claim two former undrafted – and unproven – players off of waivers. The Bobby Rainey pickup drew praise in some circles, but he is still largely an unknown NFL commodity. (Mitch Stringer/US Presswire) Bobby Rainey, who was claimed after being released by the Ravens, twice rushed for over 1,600 yards in a season while at Western Kentucky. Undrafted in 2012, he was only the eighth Football Bowl Subdivision player to record back-to-back 1,500-yard seasons, joining noted runners like LaDanian Tomlinson, Ray Rice, DeAngelo Williams, Darren McFadden, and Steven Jackson. Nevertheless, the 5-8, 212-pound back has zero NFL experience. Asking him to serve as Richardson’s primary backup will surely be an adventure as the Browns open the season on Sunday. The Browns other backfield waiver claim was Dennis Johnson, a running back from Arkansas who signed with the Houston Texans after this year’s draft before being released. His college career was considerably less decorated than Rainey’s, as his best season in Fayetteville included just 757 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. However, at 5-7 and 193 pounds, he should provide a shiftier running style that could serve as a cheap facsimile of the injured Dion Lewis. While either of these young backs could pan out, this is yet another situation that the new Browns administration has bungled. Go back and click on that link two paragraphs above. Could Banner, Lombardi, and company really not pick one player with real NFL experience from that list? The front office has made their aversion to signing veterans clear, but when the cupboard is that bare, it is hard to see the benefit of adding two unproven performers instead of picking one young player with potential and one veteran with a legitimate track record in the league. Of course, one (or both) of these moves could work out and Johnson or Rainey could reveal themselves to be the next (insert random undrafted running back who comes out of nowhere to set the league on fire) and seize the backup running back position. However, this is the second time this week that I have written about a position group where the front office’s moves have left the entire fanbase scratching their heads and spewing snark on Twitter. Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi better hope that one of these players who supposed lumps of coal hardens into a diamond. Otherwise, the Browns backfield structure may just topple in on itself.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Dwyane Wade admits he is struggling to find role with Cavaliers

Ravens' Mike Wallace ruled out with concussion

Why the Bears have found their quarterback in Trubisky

Colts botching Luck injury in the worst way possible

Report: NFL moving closer to having ‘Social Awareness Month’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Marcus Peters to testify in Marshawn Lynch suspension appeal

Teddy Bridgewater to reportedly return in Week 10 at the earliest

Report: Jerry Jones was only voice of opposition at anthem meetings

Josh Reddick excited to face Dodgers due to how he was treated by their fans

Report: Roger Goodell’s contract extension being held up by anthem debate

Report: Aaron Rodgers could resume throwing in six weeks

Most prominent sports bans on the 5th anniversary of the Lance Armstrong ban

Sports & Politics Intersect: Cubs owner up for Heritage Foundation post

The 'Like Mike, only better' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: Dodgers finish Cubs while Astros find pain in the Bronx

The 'Some call me the Rocket, some people call me Maurice' quiz

Kyrie Irving must lead Celtics through a disaster in search for happiness

Jacoby Brissett: The forgotten up-and-comer

NFL Week 7 Predictions

The 'Can I have a quick sword with you?' quiz

College football 2017 Week 8 predictions

NFL Referee Hotline Bling: Austin Seferian-Jenkins drops a call

Blackhawks get extra depth on defense with newbies Rutta and Forsling

Browns News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Most prominent sports bans on the 5th anniversary of the Lance Armstrong ban

Houston Astros hold off Yankees, forcing Game 7

Sports & Politics Intersect: Cubs owner up for Heritage Foundation post

The 'Like Mike, only better' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: Dodgers finish Cubs while Astros find pain in the Bronx

The 'Some call me the Rocket, some people call me Maurice' quiz

Kyrie Irving must lead Celtics through a disaster in search for happiness

Jacoby Brissett: The forgotten up-and-comer

NFL Week 7 Predictions

College football 2017 Week 8 predictions

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker