Harrison carried 20 times for 60 yards as a rookie and 23 for 142 yards last season. He caught nine passes as a rookie and two last year. He has yet to score a touchdown for the Browns.
As head coach Romeo Crennel sees it, Harrison needs to get better on special teams. He is on the backup kick coverage and backup punt coverage units. Special teams coach Ted Daisher said Harrison is getting better. He said it has taken this long because Harrison did not play special teams in college. Also, Harrison, an offensive player since he started playing football, had to develop a defensive mentality to play on special teams.
Harrison got an opportunity to show what he can do on the coverage in the preseason opener against the Jets. If he passes subsequent tests in the final three preseason games, Harrison might even pass by Jason Wright and become the backup to Jamal Lewis.
"He and Jamal could be a really nice duo," general manager Phil Savage said. "Taking nothing away from Jason because Jason is terrific at what he does, but with the ability we have on the perimeter, getting Jerome in space can be pretty exciting."
Wright carried 62 times for 189 yards in 2006 and 60 times for 277 yards last year. He has 30 receptions over the last two seasons. He scored one touchdown in 2005, his first season with the Browns, and one last season.
Harrison played 22 games at Washington State after transferring from Pasadena Junior College. He carried the ball 482 times for 2,800 yards for the Cougars. He rushed for at least 100 yards in each of his last 14 games. He expected to pick up in the NFL where he left off in college, but that did not happen.
"Going into my third year, things are slowing down more," Harrison said. "I understand the offense more. We have Jamal, Jason Wright, and coach (Anthony) Lynn. I'm around smart football people. Our coach played the position. I'm reading the defense better than my first two years."
Harrison made a bold prediction during minicamp his first year with the Browns; he said he'd be Rookie of the Year. That was the year Reggie Bush was a rookie with the Saints.
A couple months later, Harrison said he made that prediction out of frustration, but he still contended he was better than Bush, the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner from USC. Of course it did not work out that way for Harrison in 2006, and then in the 2007 off-season, the Browns signed Lewis. Last season, Lewis rushed for 1,304 yards, the most by any Browns back since Jim Brown rushed for 1,544 yards in 1965.
"I'm not sitting behind some rinky-dink player," Harrison said. "Jamal rushed for 2,000 yards in the NFL (2003). I take it as I'll do whatever I have to do to get to the top. I'm going to learn what I can from Jamal and work as hard as I can on special teams until my time comes."