After a slow start, Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell has rushed for 716 yards this season, which ranks 14th in the NFL. That may not sound like much, but he is only 109 yards behind the Ravens’ Alex Collins, who ranks ninth.

Perhaps more importantly, Crowell is 284 yards from what would be his first 1,000-yard season, which Ravens strong safety Tony Jefferson thinks is a significant goal.


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Despite missing five games this season, the No. 1 overall pick leads Cleveland with five sacks.

“He runs hard, has good feet,” Jefferson said. “He’s almost at 1,000 yards, and I know that he wants to get to 1,000. I know it’s his contract year. So we know we’re going to get his best shot. But he’s a really good back, and we respect him.”

Crowell’s rise might have seemed like a stretch after he failed to reach 65 rushing yards in each of his first eight games. But in three of his past five starts, Crowell has rushed at least 90 yards, including a season-high 121 on 19 carries in Sunday’s 27-21 overtime loss to the Green Bay Packers.

In six of seven meetings, the Ravens defense has held Crowell to no more than 55 rushing yards. But on Sept. 18, 2016, Crowell exploded for 133 yards and one touchdown on 18 attempts.

“He’s done well against us in the past,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s been there for, I think, three years now, and he’s a hard-running, downhill guy, an NFL-style back. He runs both their packages. They’ve got the gun runs with him and Duke Johnson [Jr.]. They’ve also got all the downhill runs that he knows so well. So it’s going to be a challenge for us. This is a team that’s committed to running the ball, and we’re going to have to stop the run.”

Jefferson was reminded that the league’s No. 13 run defense limited Crowell to 37 yards on 10 carries in the Ravens’ 24-10 victory Sept. 17. But he said the defense can’t rely on that history to predict the future.

“That’s all good, but that was Week 2,” Jefferson said. “We gave up a few rushing yards and then you look a few weeks later, and we gave up a lot of rushing yards to Minnesota. So it’s a week-to-week thing, and we’ve got to go out and play good football every week.”

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