BEREA—There's obviously been a lot of talk here and around the Browns about Jerome Harrison.
Realistically, what else is there to talk about as the Browns look to see what they have for the future?
To put up 286 yards and then follow that up with 148 the next week has vaulted him to the top of talk surrounding the Browns—besides the obvious with Mike Holmgren taking over.
Harrison received a huge ovation when recognized at the Cavaliers-Hawks game in Cleveland on Wednesday night.
This week, one of the premier backs in the NFL is coming to town in Maurice Jones-Drew. He has proven his durability and productivity since he's been in the league.
The question for the Browns is whether Harrison can do the same thing for the Browns if given the chance?
Jones-Drew, the 5-7, 208 pound back from UCLA is in his fourth season of the NFL after being a second-round draft choice. He is currently third in the NFL in most yards from scrimmage with 1677. He has 1309 rushing with a 4.4 average and 368 receiving yards with 52 receptions and a 7.1 average. He is only behind Chris Johnson and Ray Rice. He is the NFL's leading scorer with 16 touchdowns, 15 rushing and one receiving.
Harrison, who's listed at 5-9, 205 pounds, is also in his fourth season and played in the same conference as Jones-Drew while at Washington State. He was drafted the same year by the Browns in the fifth-round.
"I'm not a huge fan of comparing (backs), but (Jones-Drew) has done it for longer," Eric Mangini said. "An area that has gone underappreciated of him is his blocking. I'm happy with that and we'll have to see over time."
The knock has been that Harrison doesn't block, but Mangini said he's improved immensely.
"He's improved his technique and he has put himself in position to do better."
Harrison had carried the ball in three games over 25 times this season. He had 29 carries against the Bengals and then 34 and 39 the past two weeks, so he has shown he can be durable.
Mangini admitted physical attributes play into what coaches look for.
"You have the ideal height and weight you look for, but there are so many exceptions," he said. "They don't always fit what you want."
Harrison said he is a big fan of small backs—for obvious reasons.
"My favorite backs are guys like Jones-Drew, Darren Sproles, LaDanian (Tomlinson), guys who they said were too small."
Harrison says playing behind behemoth offensive linemen plays to his advantage.
"I feel you have an advantage when you're small because you can hide behind a guy like Joe Thomas, who's 6-6."
Harrison is looking forward to competing against Jones-Drew this Sunday and let the coaches and personnel evaluators decide for themselves if he can be the featured back.
"I've always wanted to be like Maurice Jones-Drew my whole life," Harrison said. "I played against him in college and respect him a lot."
With the uncertainties of the collective bargaining agreement, Harrison said he is not concerned about his future as he is in the final year of his rookie contract.
"I just play and have fun and want to take advantage of the opportunity I have."
Shaded Numbers: The Browns are ranked dead last overall in offense and defense at No. 32, but Mangini said the numbers are dramatically different over the last half of the season.
"It's accurate because that's what it is over the first 15 games, but if you look at the last seven games versus the first eight it's extremely different," he said. "If you look at it as a progression, in the last eight games we're pretty much in the top 10."
The Roth Factor: One of the best pickups of the season has been LB Matt Roth. Literally, he was picked up midweek and played on the following Sunday. He was signed on Nov. 25 and has played in five games.
Moving forward, Mangini said he could be a major contributor for the Browns.
"I think he'll stay on the outside," Mangini said. "He's like a tank. You better block him with somebody big or he will go over you. He was a wrestler and he's just tough."
Roth has 26 tackles with four sacks for the Browns after being let go by the Dolphins. He was a second-round draft choice of Miami.
Robiskie Done: Mangini all but ruled out rookie WR Brian Robiskie for this week's game, thus ending his season.
"It's not looking good," Mangini said. "We'll probably give Jake (Allen) another opportunity this week."
"I think what I really liked was you saw it last game is the fact he got a much better feel for the routes as the season went along," Mangini said. "I think as the season has gone along the pattern has been getting better at practice."
Robiskie concludes his first season with just 7 receptions for 106 yards and no touchdowns.
Furrey Wins Payton Award: WR/DB Mike Furrey was the Browns' 2009 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. It recognizes a player's off the field community service activities as well as his playing excellence.
"It is a well-deserved honor for him for what he has done in the community," Mangini said. "He and his wife have done a lot of things in a short time while he's been here."
Furrey has started on offense and defense for the Browns this season. He is third on the team with 23 receptions for 170 yards, while also totaling 11 tackles and two passes defensed on defense.
"It's a big award around the league," Furrey said. "My feeling is that when you're blessed the way we are to be in this league, helping out others is important."
Quote of the Day: Mangini was asked if he had any New Year's Resolutions, he said.
"No bus trips to Hartford."
He was referring to busing the rookies to Hartford, Ct. in the spring for a football camp he was putting on in his home area.