Hillis Gets His Shot

The Browns RB set to go up against the NFL's 28-ranked defense.

The Browns are going to ride Peyton Hillis as far as he will take them this season. So far it has been a fairly smooth ride with only a few bumps along the way.

After facing the Jets stingy ground defense last week and still gaining 82 yards in a game the Browns lost in overtime, 26-20, Hillis and the Browns take aim at the Jaguars, who ranked 28th defensively entering Week 10.

Last spring, when team president Mike Holmgren was sweeping quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn out of the locker room, he shipped Quinn to the Broncos for Hillis, a sixth-round pick in 2011 and a conditional pick in 2012.

Hillis is very comfortable in a Browns uniform and says he has no hard feelings about the Broncos giving up on him, but he also admits the first two months of last offseason was a nervous time for him. He rushed for 343 yards on 66 carries as a rookie in 2008 when Mike Shanahan was the Broncos coach. Under the Josh McDaniels plan Hillis carried just 20 times for 77 yards.

"I suspected big time I wouldn't be back with the Broncos after last season because I played very, very little," Hillis said. "Why keep a guy like me around if you're not going to play me?

"In Denver, I wasn't given my shot. Nothing against them; maybe I just didn't fit their offense. I was praying every day for a new beginning. I always felt I had the talent to do good things."

Coach Eric Mangini spoke with Hillis when the trade was made and told him he could be a 1,000-yard rusher in the Browns offense. Hillis is on his way to that and more this season.

The truth is the Browns would be lost without Hillis. Jerome Harrison gave no indication he would duplicate last season's finish when he rushed for 561 yards in the last three games, so they traded him to the Eagles after four games for running back Mike Bell. Bell gives Hillis a breather occasionally, but he isn't a factor in the offense beyond that.

"The Browns brought me in because they want me to be successful," Hillis said. "A lot of people are expecting me to do great things here. That's what's so fulfilling, because you finally have people who believe in you."

The Jaguars could try to stack the box with eight like the Jets did most of the time, but if they do the Browns are confident they can attack through the air Colt McCoy was 18 of 31 passing against the Jets for 205 yards. He has played three straight games without throwing an interception. He led a 59-yard, 10 play drive and tied the game on a three-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Massaquoi with 44 seconds left in regulation.

If Coach Eric Mangini follows the script of the last two weeks, he will not name McCoy the starter for Jacksonville until Friday.


BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- Peyton Hillis has rushed for 726 yards and eight rushing touchdowns, but he has also lost four fumbles. He lost one vs. the Jets.

UNDER THE RADAR: NT Ahtyba Rubin had a team-high nine tackles vs. the Jets. He's been vital in the team stuffing the run.



--Josh Cribbs was injured on a 37-yard catch and run in the second quarter and did not return.

--CB Sheldon Brown suffered a neck injury on the Jets' fourth offensive play and did not return.

--LB Scott Fujita left the game with a knee injury in the second quarter and did not return. The run defense suffered in his absence.

--TE Benjamin Watson caught five more passes to run his team-leading total to five catches.

--WR Chansi Stuckey fumbled in overtime at the Jets' 36, about five yards short of safe field goal range for Phil Dawson.


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