MONDAY, 1:57pm: While the Browns may eventually add a running back, it doesn’t seem as if it will happen in the immediate future. Pettine told reporters today that the club isn’t planning to sign a back this week (Twitter link via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal).
SUNDAY, 9:39pm: The Browns are awaiting medical reports as to the status of running backs Duke Johnson and Shaun Draughn, and head coach Mike Pettine said the team might have to add a back if one or both will miss extended time, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via Twitter).
In her piece for Cleveland.com, Cabot addressed the possibility of the team adding one controversial running back in particular. Ray Rice, currently a free agent, would be among the most high profile backs the team could bring.
Regarding adding a player at the position, Pettine wanted to wait to see where his current players were at medically. “We’ll wait and see how long Duke is potentially out,” said Pettine. “We’ll have a whole series of meetings this afternoon. We’ll start with the defense first and when we get to the offense, I’ll bet the running back will likely be one of the first topics discussed.”
That wasn’t enough for the media, who pushed him on whether the team would consider Rice, and Pettine would not rule out the possibility. “If we do come to the decision that we need to add a back that is not here,” said Pettine. “We’ll look at the list of backs that are available.”
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, no stranger to controversy himself, has come out in support of Rice earlier this month, according to Zac Jackson of Pro Football Talk. Haslam said he’d like to see the embattled former Raven get another shot. With the current injuries, the Browns could be the team to give him one.
The Browns have discussed Rice earlier this offseason, and Pettine said then that they had not broached the idea of whether they’d be comfortable with him or not, because it didn’t make sense from a football standpoint at the time.
Not everyone thinks that Rice is being considered in Cleveland. Tony Gross of ESPN answers the question as whether it is a serious possibility with a resounding “No” (via Twitter).
For the record, the team does seem committed to some combination of Johnson and Draughn, with Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell as the depth chart. Although none have separated from the pack as the go-to runner and injuries have weakened the group, Rice likely wouldn’t be preferred over any of the internal options. If the team does need to bring in another player to round out the depth chart, they would be more likely to add a player who can contribute on special teams at the back end of the depth chart.