|Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis, right, stands in the bench area in street clothes alongside tight end Evan Moore, left, and wide receiver Brian Robiskie (80) in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks in an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011, in Cleveland. Hillis did not play in the game, which the Browns won 6-3. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)|
Browns' RB Hillis questionable with injury
BEREA, Ohio—At the end of another drama-filled week, Peyton Hillis' playing status for Sunday's game was questionable. However, the Browns running back's marital status had changed.
Hillis missed his second straight practice Friday with a strained hamstring, an injury that kept him out of last week's win over Seattle and could sideline him Sunday when the Browns (3-3) visit the San Francisco 49ers (5-1). Browns coach Pat Shurmur said Hillis will travel with the team and has not yet been ruled out.
"He'll be out there and we'll decide whether he's going to play or not," Shurmur said after practice. "We'll see."
Earlier this week, Shurmur said if Hillis is healthy, he'll start. If he can't play, Montario Hardesty will make his second straight start. Hardesty rushed for 95 yards on 33 carries in last week's 6-3 win over the Seahawks.
On Wednesday, Hillis practiced for the first time since Oct. 16, when he injured his hamstring in the first half against Oakland. He looked moved well and without any trouble during the portion of practice open to reporters, but Shurmur said Hillis reported being "a little sore" on Thursday and spent the past two days getting treatment.
Shurmur didn't think Hillis rushed back too early.
"We brought him back with the idea that he could go out and practice," Shurmur said, adding Hillis ran indoors on Friday. "He did some things, he just couldn't finish, that's all."
Hillis' season has been a constant soap opera with his contract negotiations to secure a long-term extension, a strep throat sickness that caused him to miss a game and the hamstring injury among the main issues that have dominated his second season in Cleveland. It hasn't gone as Hillis expected, and earlier this week the Madden 12 video game cover boy, vowed to stop talking publicly about his contract and focus on playing.
"I'm not going to be a distraction," he said.
One day earlier, Hillis got married in Arkansas. The ceremony was first reported on Arkansas Sports360.com, which posted an online photo of his wedding license. Hillis' marriage was confirmed by a few of his teammates following Friday's practice.
The Browns will be missing starting wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi this week. Massaquoi sustained a concussion in Sunday's win and has not been cleared by the team's medical staff to return. Massaquoi, who has 18 receptions for a team-leading 239 yards, will be replaced in the starting lineup by Josh Cribbs.
Tight end Benjamin Watson returned to practice Friday after missing two days as he recovered from a concussion sustained last week. He will play Sunday.
Watson, who has 20 receptions, doesn't know exactly when he got hurt. However, he said he was aware something wasn't right because of "fogginess" and "a little headache." The eight-year veteran praised the Browns' medical staff for handling his injury and believes the NFL has done a good job of educating players about the dangers of head injuries.
Watson said he's being much more careful about concussions, and hopes others are honest with themselves and others when they sustain a head injury.
"Every guy who has played football has had a time where they're kind of fuzzy and they've played through it," he said. "You always want to play and that's the hardest thing, and that's where the training staff kind of comes into place. When you got a guy that's kind of iffy, but he tells you that, 'Hey, I'm feeling this way or I'm feeling that way,' it's their job to step in because as players you want to play.
"You see high school guys that have concussions and they keep playing and they're hurt worse later and it's important that teammates check each other out and aren't afraid to say, 'You know what? I don't think this guy is quite right, check him out.'"
NOTES: Shurmur said backup DE Auston English suffered a knee injury in practice on Thursday and will not make the trip to California. ... WR Carlton Mitchell purchased a JUGS machine during the offseason to help his pass-catching skills. "I love that thing," he said of the contraption that fires footballs at high speeds. "It's probably the best investment I've ever had. I'll be in the hallway of the condo shooting it or in the parking garage. I got caught a couple of times. It helped a lot. Caught about 1,000 balls a day." ... Shurmur said RG Shawn Lauvao made it through practice without any problems. He hyperextended his knee last week and missed one day of practice.