This came after a season marred by distractions, ranging from nagging injuries to a host of bizarre off-field incidents that soured Hillis’ relationship with the Cleveland media and the team’s fans.
But since returning from a hamstring injury that kept him out for five straight games, Peyton Hillis has demonstrated the playmaking ability that made him such a valuable piece of the offense in 2010. Here are the stats from the four games since Hillis has returned from his injury:
- At Cincinnati: 19 carries for 65 yards
- Baltimore: 12 carries for 45 yards; 1 catch for 52 yards
- At Pittsburgh: 10 carries for 25 yards
- At Arizona: 26 carries for 99 yards and 1 touchdown; 1 catch for 9 yards
Granted, the Browns have lost all four games, but there’s no denying that Hillis brings a different element to the offense when he’s healthy. Playing well will always absolve a player of his past, and it seems that that is the case with Hillis. Plus, when you consider the fragile state of the running back position, it makes sense for the Browns to consider re-signing him.
General manager Tom Heckert has stressed the team’s need for playmakers, and bringing Hillis back allows the Browns to focus an early draft pick on another position, such as wide receiver.
With a strong finish to the season, Hillis is putting himself into position to earn a new contract. It obviously won’t be a deal with the kind of money that would have come from a new contract early in the season, but it’s a big step from nearly being run out of town.
The Browns’ last two games are against two of the top-three defenses in the entire league, making this the ideal audition for Hillis. If he can perform well against two AFC North rivals, it will go a long way in solidifying his future with the team.