The Cleveland Browns are currently sitting at 3-3 and have a top-five ranked defense. They are in the only division in the NFL that has every team at .500 or above, and have received even better news this week.
Running back Peyton Hillis, who missed last week’s win against the Seattle Seahawks with a hamstring injury, was back at practice for the first time on Wednesday and is expected to start against the San Francisco 49ers. It’s no secret that Hillis has had a rough season – he’s already missed two games (including a third where he hardly played due to the hamstring injury) and his stats for the season look like this: 60 carries for 211 yards with two touchdowns to go along with 15 catches for 76 yards.
When Hillis is actually playing, he’s getting touches, so that’s no problem. His issues involve staying healthy and dealing with a patchwork offensive line that is faltering this season. A solid running back is only as good as his offensive line, and it’s not getting the job done in 2011.
Despite those setbacks, the return of Peyton Hillis is great news for the organization. The Cleveland Browns offense solidified itself as one of the worst in the league on Sunday, failing to generate a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks and looking miserable in the process. If he can stay healthy, Hillis provides the Browns their main rushing threat and more flexibility in the passing game.
The defense has proved that it can keep the Browns in games, but scoring six points is only going to win them games against the likes of the Seahawks. The 49ers will prove to be a tougher match-up and the Browns’ schedule only gets tougher from here. They’ll need everyone they can get on offense if they want to put together a winning streak of any kind.