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Browns Vs. 49ers: Peyton Hillis Returns To Practice, Will Start Sunday If He Plays

Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur is doing his best to stifle any controversy regarding much-maligned running back Peyton Hillis.  During his weekly meet-up with the press, Shurmur made it clear that Hillis, if healthy, will be his starting running back when the team takes the field in San Francisco on Sunday.

"He's our starting halfback,'' said Shurmur.

Hillis has had a tough follow-up season to his break-out 2010 season.  Battling injury and illness, Hillis has just 211 yards rushing on 60 carries and 2 touchdowns.  Hillis has not shied away from the fact that he wants a new contract - he is in the final year of his original rookie contract - and the Browns have publicly stated they will let the year play out before decidiing on what - if anything - to offer Hillis as a free agent.

Hillis missed Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Montario Hardesty.  Hardesty led the Browns with 95 yards on 33 carries in Cleveland's 6-3 and was a big part of the 40+ minutes of possession the Browns enjoyed.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.