The former Oregon State running back has spent the last two seasons with the Chicago Bears, and he was waived from the team’s practice squad on December 28. The Browns had him in for a workout, as first reported by Aaron Wilson, and they must have liked what they saw, because they signed him to the practice squad shortly after.
Cleveland is currently in a bit of a pickle with its running back situation, as Kareem Hunt (ankle) and Nick Chubb (ribs) are both dealing with injuries. Considering D’Ernest Johnson has also found himself on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Pierce got the call for the Browns the final game of the regular season, particularly since the Browns have officially been eliminated from playoff contention.
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Pierce Has Shown Promise in Limited Opportunities
“I feel like there’s different things I’ve been working on — like moving my hands in different places, different positions catching the ball,” Pierce said in September of 2020, via Zack Pearson of Bear Report. “I really didn’t run a lot of routes in college, just basic swing routes and things like that. Just trying to turn hands, like different positions so I can catch the ball better.”
Pierce played in five games for the Bears his rookie season but saw minimal action, carrying the ball six times for 34 yards and a score. He played in one game for Chicago this year, returning one kickoff for 27 yards. In his four years at Oregon State, he rushed for 2,127 yards on 366 carries (that’s 5.8 yards per carry) and 15 TDs.
“He’s a kid that really came on and early on for us he did some really good things. I think he’s got really, really good vision, patience in the hole, you know we’re continuing to keep working on his ball skills coming out of the backfield,” Bears head coach Matt Nagy said about Pierce last season, per Pearson. “He’s a great kid, he learns well, he learns fast.”
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Bears Currently Have 4 RBs on 53-Man Roster, None on Practice Squad
Chicago currently has a fullback, Ben Mason, on the practice squad, but no running backs, which isn’t how the team typically does things.
Pierce had been a regular on the practice squad in Chicago, but now, the Bears have elected to finish their season without him while also keeping another perennial practice squader, Ryan Nall, on the active roster. Nall primarily plays on defensive special teams, and he likely won’t be on the roster again once the regular season concludes.
Of the team’s top three RBs, only David Montgomery and rookie Khalil Herbert are likely to return next season. Veteran Damien Williams has just 40 carries for 164 yards and two scores this year, and he’s on a one-year, $1.5 million deal.