The Browns' Jerome Harrison found big holes in the Chiefs' defense in December, gaining 286 yards.
Charlie Riedel / AP Enlarge
BEREA, Ohio — Jerome Harrison didn't keep any souvenirs from the best day of his football life.
No game ball, no jersey, no cleats, nothing.
“All that stuff is in Canton,” he said, referring to the Hall of Fame. “I got a picture, that's it.”
No, Harrison didn't get 286 tattooed on his body or change his license plate number to JH-286 during the offseason. He insists 286 doesn't hold any special significance.
The Chiefs won't soon forget it.
Hoping to prove he could be an every-down back in the NFL, Harrison shredded Kansas City's defense for 286 yards last December. With Jim Brown in attendance, Harrison shattered the Hall of Famer's team record and posted the third-highest single-game total in league history.
Harrison's breakout performance shocked the Chiefs and stunned the Browns, who had been mostly using the 5-foot-9, 205-pounder as a third-down specialist.
Nine months later, Harrison is getting another crack at running around, past, and through the Chiefs (1-0), who will visit the Browns for Cleveland's home opener on Sunday.
This week, Kansas City coach Todd Haley made sure there was a No. 35 — Harrison's jersey number — on the practice field to remind his team of what happened last Dec. 20.
“I would say that I'm paying attention to Jerome,” Haley said. “We definitely have a jersey No. 35 out there, and when you have a guy play as well as he did against us, you tend to not forget that for a long, long time.”
Harrison was pleased to hear the Chiefs were paying special attention to him.
“That's a compliment, I guess,” he said.
Now, if Harrison could just get the Browns to treat him a little better.
After rookie Montario Hardesty went down with a season-ending knee injury, Harrison figured to become Cleveland's feature back. But in last week's 17-14 loss at Tampa Bay, he had just nine carries for 52 yards, picking up 39 on one rush in the second quarter.
Harrison had the same amount of attempts as fullback Peyton Hillis.
He wants the ball more. How much more?
“An ideal number that I want?” Harrison asked, making sure there was no confusion over his demands vs. what he's getting. “Between 20 and 30 every week.”
Harrison may be on to something. The more he carried the ball last season, the better he got. In each of the four games he had more than 20 attempts, Harrison went over 100 yards. In Cleveland's last three games, Harrison rushed 106 times for 561 yards — the eighth-highest three-game total in league annals.
Harrison's unspoken mantra: Give me the ball.
The unassuming 27-year-old isn't complaining about playing time. That's not his style. He's a team-first player, but that won't stop him from speaking up if the Browns don't reward him with more opportunities.
“I can only control what I can control. I'm a player. I'm not the coach. If I was the coach, I would give myself the ball near every play. I believe in myself like that.”