BEREA - Oh, for the days of Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack.
Right now, Terry Kirby and Reuben Droughns would look good.
The situation at running back for the Browns has become a major problem. Peyton Hillis could miss a third straight game with a hamstring injury. Montario Hardesty is out at least two weeks and perhaps more with a calf injury.
Making matters worse is that the Houston Texans, who lead the AFC South Division with a 5-3 record, are up next.
If things don't change, the two running backs will be Chris Ogbonnaya and Thomas Clayton. Ogbonnaya was signed two weeks ago. Clayton was added two days ago.
The offense had problems moving the ball with consistency when Hillis and Hardesty were healthy. It can't be easy now that two of the main cogs aren't on the practice field.
"You never know what's going to happen throughout the year," quarterback Colt McCoy said. "Injuries and certain things go on. That can't slow your football team down. You've got to be able to bring a guy in, caught up to speed and go.
"My job is to get the ball in those guys' hands and let them make plays and make the guys around me better. I do that as far as I can. We're getting there. I know it's hard to see and I know it's about winning. It kills me to lose games. It will happen. Hopefully it will happen this week."
The soap opera surrounding Hillis has all the potential of having an adverse effect in the locker room. First it was the strep throat and a report that he was told by his agent to sit out a game against the Miami Dolphins. After that it's been the hamstring injury, which happened in the first half against the Oakland Raiders.
Hillis sat out the last two games. All he could do Wednesday was some light running on the side.
"I'm just focusing on Chris and Thomas right now," McCoy said. "It was tough last week because Chris played the whole game, and he's on special teams. He's the personal protector on punts. He played almost every play. By the end of the third and fourth quarters, when we started making a run, he's gassed. Getting Thomas caught up to speed will help us this week."
Like Ogbonnaya two weeks ago, a lot will be asked of Clayton. He'll need to take a crash course in learning the offense and try to give Ogbonnaya a break against the Texans.
"Ogbonnaya did it in three days," coach Pat Shurmur said. "That's the time frame. He's active, so he'll be in there playing. So I expect him to learn. Be careful how much you give him, but you have to give him enough to be able to go in there and execute."
Clayton, who was selected by San Francisco in the sixth round of the 2007 draft, was on the Browns' active roster for four games last season. He also spent two weeks on their practice squad.
Clayton knows he has no other option but to get ready as soon as possible.
"I'm ready to rock and roll," Clayton said.
"I've been working out all this time. I don't know if you guys got to watch practice, (but) I was rolling. If you're conditioned, you're conditioned."
No matter how they line up in the backfield Sunday, it will be a challenge for Shurmur to make it work against a defense that's improving each week.
"They're playing outstanding defense," Shurmur said. "It's hard to find a bad defense in the league, at least the ones we're playing."