There's the panic button! I admit that I was ready to hit it when I did not see running back Peyton Hillis in the game during the second and third quarters yesterday. It seemed like a mystery, and because the cameras showed Hillis standing on the sideline with his helmet in hand, I thought that something had happened between he and head coach Pat Shurmur that put him in the doghouse. And then, Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer threw more fuel when she tweeted that a team official stated it was a "coaches decision" not to play Hillis.
"Coaches decision" technically covers injury situations, but I would say that in general, "coaches decision" in sports refers to a non-injury related decision. Shortly after that, Cabot and the rest of the media announced that it was due to a hamstring injury. Hillis did re-enter the game in the fourth quarter, but he explained why everything happened the way it did on Sunday:
(On when the injury happened): "It was my second run when I went outside and one of the defensive backs pushed me out of bounds and I overextended," he said. "I tried to play there a couple of series afterward the best I could."
(Shurmur did not go against his word): "That's nobody's fault," said Hillis, referring to Shurmur not being able to give Hillis the bulk of the carries due to his injury. "You pull a hamstring, you try to go out there and do your best. It's nobody's fault. It's just unfortunate, disappointing."
(On why he went in to block late in the game): "I felt it was a critical part in the game," said Hillis. "I didn't want to leave Montario hanging out there, so I felt if I could go in there and do a little pass protection, do what I could do to help the team win...it probably wasn't the smartest thing to do," he said. "But I wanted to help the team win. I was anxious to get out there and help. It was a critical point, we were just two possessions down and if we got that touchdown -- you saw how things worked out with the onside kick and stuff, we knew it was within reach."
Shurmur had the same statement after the game, so I don't think there is any rift between Hillis and the head coach, as originally suspected:
"We had the idea that we were going to go in and try to feature [Hillis] in some way and then, he got hurt," Browns coach Pat Shurmur said of Hillis. "Montario stepped in there, did some good things. I think he’ll be the first one to admit that just like everybody in that locker room, they could play better."
It's been an unfortunate year for Hillis so far (I'm almost wanting to start believing the Madden Curse). He'll get an MRI today to see the extent of the injury, but he hopes to play against the Seattle Seahawks, even if he is not at 100 percent.