BEREA – Kareem Hunt jogged out onto the practice field at the Browns training facility about 1:45 Sunday afternoon. For now, the running back remains with the team.
According to a league source, that's not about to change, even though Hunt and his representatives have requested a trade. The Browns, the source confirmed, have declined that request.
“I think you know me well enough that I’m not going to get into really anything that has to do with our players and conversations I have with our players and those type of things,” coach Kevin Stefanski said prior to Sunday's practice.
The trade demand is part of a recent campaign by Hunt to get an extension as he enters the final season of his current deal. Part of that campaign has also involved sitting out all team drills during Friday's and Saturday's practices.
Although Hunt sat out team drills on those two days, he did participate in individual drills. On Sunday, he returned to full participation in practice, starting with the second running back rep in the first 11-on-11 drill of the day.
“No," Stefanski said when asked if a player can only participate in select portions of practice. "I understand what you are asking, but if our players are healthy, they practice.”
Despite being in camp, Hunt's actions are likely to result in a fine from the team. Stefanski declined to state what kind of recourse would be taken against the running back.
Hunt, who has not spoken to the media during training camp, made it clear at his youth camp in June that he wished to remain with his hometown team. He grew up less than 20 miles east of Cleveland in Willoughby, where he was a standout for Willoughby South High School.
"Man, as soon as possible," Hunt said of an extension at his youth camp. "On both sides, if they come correct and make me feel great, then I’ll be willing to be here."
Hunt is due a base salary of $1.35 million and a roster bonus of $4.9 million in the final year of his deal. He signed a two-year, $13.25-million extension in 2020.
The Hunt situation is the latest off-the-field drama that has carried over into training camp. The Browns continue to await a final resolution on what suspension quarterback Deshaun Watson will receive after the NFL appealed the six-game suspension handed down by disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson.
Watson, who the Browns acquired in a trade with the Houston Texans and signed to a five-year, $230-million fully guaranteed contract in March, has participated throughout camp. There's no timetable for when former New Jersey attorney general Peter C. Harvey, who was chosen to be NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's designee to hear the league's appeal, will issue his ruling.
The NFL has reportedly sought an indefinite suspension of Watson, which is the original punishment it was looking for in the hearings with Robinson. Harvey has, through the collective bargaining agreement, the right to increase the punishment.
“I would tell you, respectfully, we really do focus on what we can control," Stefanski said. "I understand that there are things that happen that certainly get attention, and that is OK. This is a great game. I know our fans love this game and follow every step along the way.
"For us, we really are focused on trying to get better. We are not where we need to be, and we have a lot of work to do. That is what we are focusing on.”
Hunt's 2021 season was limited to just eight games due to injuries to his calf and ankle, plus a bout with COVID-19. He rushed for 386 yards and five touchdowns on 78 carries, and added 22 catches for 174 yards.
"You know, it's tough because I'm not used to sitting at home and watching some games on the couch and stuff like that," Hunt said in June. "So it was kind of a weird thing. I don't like that feeling not being able to go out there and help the team, so it was very tough."
Hunt is part of one of the deepest positions on the Browns. He and Nick Chubb have formed a formidable one-two punch at the top of the running back depth chart.
Beyond those two is D'Ernest Johnson, who has played well in multiple games phe last two seasons when the Browns have been short-handed in the backfield due to injuries to Chubb and/or Hunt. They also drafted Jerome Ford out of Cincinnati in the fifth round this past April. Demetric Felton Jr. can be a part of the rotation, although he's spent most of camp playing wide receiver.
"Excited about that room," Stefanski said. "I think, like you mentioned, a ton of talent. We’ve got veterans, we’ve got young guys. I think [running backs coach] Stump [Mitchell] does a great job with with that crew, as you know, so they're working really hard and they're gonna continue to do that."
Contact Chris at email@example.com.
On Twitter: @ceasterlingABJ
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Kareem Hunt participates in Browns practice despite trade request