The Match-Up: Harrison Vs. Jones-Drew

The most compelling story lines this weekend? The battle between between the lil' RB big men...

After starting the season with Jamal Lewis as their featured back, the Browns have switched to Jerome Harrison and the season has been transformed.

The game Sunday in Cleveland Browns Stadium between the Browns and Jaguars will be a battle of small but successful backs -- Harrison of the Browns and Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jaguars.

Jones-Drew, 5-foot-7, 208 pounds, is fifth in the NFL in rushing with 1,324 yards. He has scored 15 touchdowns on the ground. Eighteen teams have fewer rushing touchdowns.

Harrison is 5-foot-9, 205 pounds. He isn't in Jones-Drew's class, at least not yet, but he set a Browns single-game franchise record by rushing for 286 yards against the Chiefs and followed that up by rushing for 148 yards against the Raiders. After such a late start -- he had 257 yards rushing through 11 games -- Harrison leads the Browns with 735 yards on 161 carries and has a team-high six touchdowns. Harrison was limited in practice Thursday because of a hip injury.

The Browns will be gunning for their fourth straight victory on Sunday. The Jaguars, 7-8, are still alive in the AFC wildcard playoff chase.

"My favorite running backs are guys like Jones-Drew, (Darren) Sproles, LaDainian (Tomlinson) -- guys people say are too small," Harrison said Thursday before practice. "Then they go and perform at the level they perform at in the NFL -- I really appreciate and respect what they're doing.

"There are some advantages to being smaller. It's hard to see me when I'm running behind Joe Thomas. He's 6-4 and huge. I'm a little guy. It has its advantages."

The Browns are a different team with Harrison than they were with Lewis as the primary running back. Lewis, 5-foot-11, 245 pounds, was a plodder the last two years of his career. He carried 143 times and averaged 3.5 yards a carry this season before landing on injured reserve with five games to play. His longest run was 18 yards.

Lewis could muscle his way through tackles. Harrison doesn't do that as well. He breaks open and when he does he is difficult to catch. He scored on runs of 71 and 28 yards against the Chiefs.

"J.C.'s been running hard," said quarterback Derek Anderson, referring to Harrison's nickname. "I don't know what exactly the number is we've run for, but we've become very effective in the running game.

"We've been doing well offensively, controlling the ball and making good decisions. Let the little dog run. Those guys are so small, they kind of get lost behind the 6-8, 6-7 guys. Their center of gravity is so low, you really got to get on their legs. If you hit Jones-Drew high, he just bounces off you because he has such good balance. Jerome is the same way. You kind of lose him for a second, and the next thing you know he's past you."

Until 2009, Harrison's season high for carries was 34 and his season high for rushing yardage was 246, both last season. He had two career touchdowns during his first three seasons.

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