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Browns 60-second rant: Holding on to Hillis the right move

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Posted Oct. 19, 2011 @ 2:48 a.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

At 2-3, the Browns are in last place in the AFC North. Considering the way Baltimore, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh have played, the Browns face a big challenge catching up to the pack.

One way they surely weren't going to help their cause in getting back into the AFC North race, however, was by trading RB Peyton Hillis. 

Yes, Hillis is having a disappointing season. He has gained just 211 yards on 60 carries, and he's averaging almost a full yard per carry less than he did in 2010. He elected to miss Week Three because of an illness, a decision that drew considerable scrutiny and became a topic of conversation that lasted weeks, not days.

That said, the Browns are better with Hillis than they would have been without him. He's the Browns' most physical back and their best pass catcher out of the backfield. When he's at his best, he can wear down a defense.

What's more, Hillis' contract status (his deal expires after this season) and injury may well have blunted his trade value. If the Browns even considered dealing Hillis — and it's unclear whether they did or not, with conflicting reports surfacing Wednesday via ESPN and The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer — they would have been doing so when Hillis' value surely wasn't what it had been a year ago at this time.

Finally, the Browns' RB depth beyond Hillis is thin. Montario Hardesty has shown potential, but he has struggled catching the ball, and he's had a history of injuries. Chris Ogbonnaya, the third back on the depth chart after being signed off Houston's practice squad Tuesday, is unproven.

On balance, Hillis has had a very good two seasons in Cleveland. The Browns were right to stand pat and see if Hillis can recapture his best form in the games to come.

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