Browns RB Hillis not practicing

TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer Published:

BEREA, Ohio (AP) -- Browns starting running back Peyton Hillis was in sweats and not practicing with his teammates Wednesday.

Earlier, Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur said he expected Hillis, who has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, to take part in practice as the Browns (3-4) prepare for Sunday's game at Houston. But as the team began its workout, Hillis walked back inside the team's facility with injured teammates Mohamed Massaquoi, Ray Ventrone and a trainer.

Hillis did not return to the field during the portion of practice open to the media.

Hillis, who rushed for nearly 1,200 yards last season, has sat out the past two games with a strained hamstring he injured on Oct. 16. He returned to practice for one day last week, but suffered a setback and missed Sunday's 20-10 loss in San Francisco. Shurmur had anticipated Hillis doing some running.

"He's been running around, but the football stuff is different," Shurmur said. "We'll see how much he can do."

However, it didn't appear Hillis was going to be doing anything in practice other than watch.

He has been embroiled in controversies surrounding his contract and injuries all season, and right now the Browns need Hillis to get healthy.

With backup Montario Hardesty out this week with a calf tear and possibly going to be miss several weeks, Chris Ogbonnaya is the only experienced back on Cleveland's roster -- and he has only been with the team since Oct. 18. On Tuesday, the team signed Thomas Clayton after a tryout.

Shurmur was asked specifically if Hillis was letting down his teammates by not playing. His answer sidestepped that issue.

"I think in terms of Hardesty being down, he competed hard. I feel bad for him because he battled," Shurmur said. "In terms of guys coming back from injury, when you got a day-to-day situation, I'm hopeful every guy we have on the roster can be ready to go. But the reality is that's not the case this time of year."

Massaquoi didn't appear to be ready to practice after missing last week's game with a concussion. He was also in sweats and did not have a helmet.

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