BEREA, Ohio — While Isaiah Crowell is running, his mind is racing.
As hard as he tries not to focus on his contract situation with the Browns, Cleveland's leading rusher said there's barely a moment when he's not thinking about a future payday.
"During the game, after the game, before the game, right now, all the time," he said Wednesday. "It's just obvious to think about."
Until he lands a lucrative extension, and there's no guarantee that will happen with Cleveland, Crowell would be content with getting more carries.
Through two games, Crowell has 27 attempts for 70 yards, a "discouraging" start to the season and not the production he was looking for after gaining 952 yards and averaging 4.8 yards last season.
Crowell feels he should have a larger role in coach Hue Jackson's offensive game plan. And while he's not angry over his lack of attempts, he does wonder why he's not more involved in the offence.
"I wouldn't say upset, but sometimes I question it," he said of Jackson's play-calling. "Everybody has their own opinions. I have my own opinions. You might have your own opinions. Hue Jackson has his own opinions. I'm just a player. I don't cross those boundaries. I just control what I can control."
Jackson wasn't surprised to learn of Crowell's wishes.
"I don't blame him," Jackson said as the Browns (0-2) prepared for this week's game at Indianapolis. "I think what he feels is fair. He gets it. A lot of guys want the ball. I think there's five or six of them, saying, 'Coach, I'll do it.' But I get it. We'll get there.
"We will run the football and he'll be a huge part. We've played two games and there are some things we can do better and we will do better."
Cleveland spent $120 million — $64.5 million guaranteed — during the off-season on upgrading its offensive line. But due to injuries and a lack of cohesion, the group has taken time to mesh. Jackson believes that once the line comes together, the Browns will take off running — literally.
"We do need to run the football," Jackson conceded. "But we have to run the football smartly in the beginning and then at some point in time once this group has had enough time together on task, then I think we will be able to run the ball the way I think we can."
And Jackson said once he starts giving the ball to Crowell, he had better produce.
"I have no problem with anybody walking in the office and saying, 'Coach, give me the ball,'" Jackson said. "Now, that being said, you better make the plays when you get them, OK? There is another responsibility that comes with that. I start handing it to you 25-30 times, I am looking for 160-150 yards and a couple of long scores."
The 24-year-old Crowell signed a one-year contract tender worth $2.7 million in May with the Browns, who have expressed an interest in locking him for more years before he's eligible for free agency in March. Crowell hired renowned agent Drew Rosenhaus and the sides have had some preliminary talks about a new contract.
As he waits for an increase in pay, Crowell wants his touches to rise.
On Sunday in Baltimore, Jackson called plays for Crowell on the first two snaps of Cleveland's first two possessions. But after the Browns fell behind by two scores, Jackson had little choice but to abandon the running game.
Baltimore's defence crowded the line of scrimmage, daring rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer to throw the ball. Crowell expects to see teams continue to put eight and nine players "in the box" — within 3 yards of the line — until Kizer makes them pay.
That will come. For now, Crowell feels like he could take some of the pressure off the young QB, and that he could be productive against any defence.
"I feel like it could help him out," Crowell said. "I feel like I'm a good enough player to overcome that. I mean, as long as I'm in a good situation."
NOTES: Rookie DE Myles Garrett is out of the walking boot after missing the first two games with a high ankle sprain. Jackson said the top overall pick has made "huge progress." However, it's unlikely the Browns will have him back this week. ... Jackson is 1-17 in his two seasons, leading some fans to feel he should give up his duties as offensive co-ordinator. "I don't think that is the case at all," he said. "Our situation is I know where we are. ... I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I think we will get there."
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