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RB Hardesty in position to seize Browns’ starting job

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Posted Sept. 01, 2010 @ 6:24 p.m. ET
By Michael Blunda

Few if any rookies rose as quickly as RB Montario Hardesty did this offseason. In little time, the second-rounder from Tennessee was drawing praise from the Browns' coaching staff for his ability and knowledge of the playbook. He looked to be on the fast track to be their Week One starter. That was, at least, until an ill-timed knee injury sent him to the sideline in late July.

While that seemed to open the door for Jerome Harrison to establish himself as the guy in Cleveland's backfield, the fifth-year pro failed to capitalize on his opportunity. He's rushed for just 23-72-1 through three preseason contests, leaving the door wide open for Hardesty to come back and take over the top spot on the depth chart.

That could be exactly what happens after Thursday night, when Hardesty makes his preseason debut against the Bears. The rookie returned to practice this week without limitations, and an impressive showing in the exhibition finale should be enough to at least draw him even with Harrison, if not put him slightly ahead in the minds of the coaches.

Since his injury has caused his fantasy stock to fall in recent weeks, a now-healthy Hardesty has the potential to be a steal in the mid-to-late rounds of drafts. His performance against Chicago on Thursday is well worth tracking.


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