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Hillis rumbles to top of Browns depth chart

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Posted Sept. 27, 2010 @ 4:43 p.m. ET
By Michael Blunda

While an injury to RB Montario Hardesty was supposed to open the door for Jerome Harrison to regain the top spot in Cleveland, it's Peyton Hillis who has seized the opportunity.

With Harrison (thigh) inactive on Sunday, Hillis did what most did not think possible: run all over the vaunted Ravens. Against one of the league's stingiest run defenses for years, the third-year back rumbled for 144 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries and added seven catches for 36 yards. It was an unbelievable feat that surely impressed head coach Eric Mangini.

Hillis already was playing well before Sunday, scoring in each of the first two games despite seeing fewer than 10 carries. But his performance in Baltimore almost surely has vaulted the former Bronco to the top of the Browns' backfield depth chart. An absolute load to take down at 6-2, 250 pounds, the multitalented Hillis is now gaining 5.6 yards per carry and has a team-high 14 receptions.

Although the Browns still will get Harrison some work when he returns, he's unlikely to be more than a change-of-pace back. Hillis has proven that he deserves the majority of the carries, which would make him a viable fantasy starter in most formats.

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