1. Dontrell Hilliard, Running Back
All camp, running back Dontrell Hilliard has been given plenty of praise for the work he has been doing. When Duke Johnson skipped OTAs while requesting a trade, Hilliard stepped up and played well. The same happened when Duke missed time early in training camp as he was dealing with a hamstring injury.
That injury seemed suspect as he was still trying to be traded, but Hilliard just continued to perform well and the Browns felt confident enough to finally send Johnson away as he’s now with the Houston Texans.
Then the game started and Hilliard looked great. He caught back-to-back 14-yard passes from Baker Mayfield on the opening drive, including the one just before Rashard Higgins’ touchdown grab. None of that was surprising as Hilliard had a knack for making the most out of his catches out of the backfield even during his rookie season. The real questions were about his ability as a runner.
During his rookie campaign, Hilliard never had a rushing attempt and now he finds himself as the No. 2 back behind Nick Chubb for the first eight games as Kareem Hunt is suspended. That meant the team really wanted to see something from him in this regard in order to feel comfortable heading into the regular season.
This is where Hilliard came up short. He had mixed results on his first few carries but then got stuffed as the team got to the goal line. From the two-yard line, he was stuffed for just a yard. He then got another shot on 4th-and-goal from the one, and not only was stuffed but also fumbled the ball away.
The fumble looks bad but either way, the Browns were turning the ball over. The difference was instead of the Redskins starting from their own one, they had a little breathing room from the six.
Again, this isn’t the worst thing that could have happened but Hilliard didn’t wow as a runner. He finished with 19 yards on nine carries which has to give them some concern about the backs behind Chubb for the first eight games.