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Harrison on downfall with Browns: 'It was mind-boggling'

Jerome Harrison doesn't know how he went from the Cleveland Browns' leading rusher to trade bait so quickly.

"I couldn't understand how that happened, and that really had me spent," Harrison told the *Cleveland Plain Dealer* in a phone interview Thursday, one day after being traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for running back Mike Bell. "I didn't understand one part of how it happened. I didn't get into any fights with anybody, and I didn't think there were any bad feelings toward me by any of the coaches or anything.

Harrison practiced with the Browns on Wednesday, then found out about the trade.

"It was mind-boggling," he said. "But it's the nature of the business. I didn't understand it. I'm not an angry person, so I'm not upset. But I was a little frustrated."

Harrison believed this season would be so much more after he rushed for a Browns-record 286 yards -- the third-most in NFL history -- against the Kansas City Chiefs last season and gained 561 yards in Cleveland's final three games. He figured he had finally proved himself worthy of being an every-down back, but the Browns obviously didn't think so when they acquired Peyton Hillis from the Denver Broncos during the offseason and drafted Montario Hardesty in the second round.

When Hardesty was lost for the season in September with a torn left anterior cruciate ligament, the Browns turned to Hillis, who is 14th in the NFL with 350 yards on 76 carries and four touchdowns. Harrison, on the other hand, has just 91 yards on 31 carries.

"I thought I could rush for more than 1,500 yards and take this team to the playoffs," Harrison told the newspaper. "I liked where (team president) Mike Holmgren was taking this team. I love all my teammates and the fans in Cleveland. My time here has been amazing. I really did plan on being here."

Browns coach Eric Mangini said Thursday that Harrison wasn't phased out of the team's offense -- Hillis just did "a great job expanding his role." Mangini also said Harrison's unhappiness over his role wasn't the reason for the trade.

"If anybody's ever dissatisfied with either their role or their situation, you always have the chance to talk to me about that and sit down," Mangini said, according to the Browns' official website. "That's ongoing, and we hadn't had that conversation, so my assumption is that he understood his role, but that's really what it was. This decision and any of these decisions are going to be made based on what we think is going to help us move forward as a team as opposed to that side of it."

The Eagles announced the deal in a press release Wednesday. The Browns only confirmed the trade, with a spokesman saying it was contingent on both players passing physicals.

"All I can say is thank you," Harrison told the Plain Dealer. "I don't feel like they were using me there, so thank you for letting me get the opportunity somewhere else. Excitement might be an understatement. I just want to go somewhere and win."

Like Harrison, Bell's chances have been limited this season. He has rushed for just 28 yards on 16 carries.

"I think, first of all, a change of scenery might be good for both players," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said Wednesday, according to the team's official website. "Mike Bell can fit their scheme. They're looking for a downhill runner between the tackles. They like to run the ball a lot. For us, Jerome, he's a quicker guy, he's athletic, (and) he can catch the football."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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