BEREA—From being a little known back-up running back on the depth chart, to the cover of Madden 2012, what a difference a year makes for Peyton Hillis.
However, Hillis said he’s the same guy he’s always been. Will success change him?
“For me, no,” Hillis said. “I have always been the same guy and always will continue to be the same guy. When I hit the football field, no matter where it is, practice or games, I am going to give it my all.”
“That’s one thing that you don’t have to worry about,” Hillis said. “I am going to do all that I can to win games for this team and for the fans. As far as success goes, the Lord humbles me pretty fast if I try to get out of line, especially my parents. That’s not who I am, that’s not who I want to be, other than that, I really don’t think it’s an issue.”
Hillis is from Conway, Arkansas and he downplayed being on the Madden cover.
“Where I’m from, they don’t know anything about it,” Hillis said.
Hillis rushed for 1,177 yards with 11 touchdowns and became an instant hero in Cleveland with his smash mouth, punishing style of play.
Still, with the return of Montario Hardesty and signing of free agent Brandon Jackson, the Browns look as though the backfield could get crowded.
“I welcome it with open arms,” he said. “I think with more talent in the backfield, like you said, it helps me stay fresh and gives us more talent. I am a very unselfish guy, I just want to win ball games. If they get a lot of playing time or if I get a lot of playing time, we’ve got to make sure we go in there and win ball games. We’ll let everything else take care of itself.”
“There is no doubt in this league today, you need two to three in the backfield to keep fresh.”
Hillis wasn’t as productive in the final games last season as he was for the majority of the campaign. It was disclosed after the season that he was playing with injuries.
“I don’t feel I ran out of gas,” he said. “It was more about some nagging injuries.”
Hillis is playing for his fourth different NFL head coach in his four NFL seasons, but he played in the West Coast offense his rookie season under Mike Shanahan in Denver.
“A lot of it is terminology,” he said. “I was in the West Coast offense in Denver. The backs have to be very versatile to split out wide among other things.”
In the first practice of training camp, Hillis and Hardesty were on the field together on a couple of occasions, lining either out wide a couple of times.
There is no question Hillis is excited about this season.
“As a back, you can do big things in this offense.”