The Browns likely again will be without RBs Peyton Hillis (hamstring) and Montario Hardesty (calf) on Sunday vs. St. Louis, head coach Pat Shurmur indicated Monday, multiple media outlets reported.
According to the Akron Beacon Journal and The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, Hillis has been ruled out completely, with Hardesty likely not to play, Shurmur said.
Shurmur said that the Browns want Hillis, who has had a season marked by injury, illness and controversy, to return and be part of the offense.
"We want him to get healthy," Shurmur said, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. "… We're gonna proceed to get him back as soon as possible."
With both backs out Sunday at Houston, the Browns' running game was ineffective. Chris Ogbonnaya, third on the depth chart, rushed for 28 yards on 13 carries and lost a fumble on his first touch of the game. Ogbonnaya's backup, Thomas Clayton, rushed for 10 yards on five carries.
The way we see it
Injuries have short-circuited Cleveland's running game. This was never going to be considered a big-play attack, but it is a unit capable of wearing down defenses if Hillis and Hardesty are healthy. Hillis, who will be a free agent at season's end, has every reason to want to return this season if possible after an awful first half of the 2011 campaign.