It's been a hectic season for running back Peyton Hillis. Without re-living every injury-related controversy or media exploitation that has surrounded him this season, it was great to see a return to normalcy last week when Hillis returned to the starting lineup against the Cincinnati Bengals.
No injuries. No contract issues. No playing time issues. It was just Hillis churning away in the backfield, plain and simple. This might sound silly, but one play that especially stood out to me came when the Browns were backed up in their own territory. The Bengals brought the heat and Colt McCoy took a shot. After the play, there was Hillis, almost picking up his quarterback in a protective state of mind to settle things down.
Hillis spoke to the media on Thursday, and unlike earlier this season, reporters left with nothing but positives to write about. From the News Herald:
"My future is here," Hillis said. "We have five more games. I want to produce and help this team win. That's my sole focus. ... This is where I want to be. I love Cleveland. There have always been questions there. I'm having fun. I enjoy this place and I enjoy this team. I hope to be here."
Hillis also responded to a question about how tough the Ravens defense is. They are coming off of a performance in which they pretty much shut down Frank Gore and knocked around quarterback Alex Smith, despite being without linebacker Ray Lewis.
"They're a good defense," Hillis said. "They're going to adjust well. They're big up front. Their front seven is great and you really have to prepare well for them."
Hillis made a name for himself against Baltimore last season in Week 3 when he ran for 144 yards and 1 touchdown against them. No one expects him to accomplish anything close to that feat on Sunday, but unlike last week, this will be the first week in awhile where Hillis actually gets a full week's worth of practice in with the first-team offense.
"It will really help having Peyton here all week," said McCoy. "Last week, he came in kind of toward the end. We really didn't know how much he was going to play."
Come on, Hillis -- bulldoze through the Ravens and make everyone remember why you are one of the most punishing backs in the NFL.