<
>

Peyton Hillis addresses fumbling woes

BEREA, Ohio -- Peyton Hillis of the Cleveland Browns is having a career year. But his fumbling issues have been the bruising running back's one Achilles heel.

Hillis eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark Sunday in a loss to the Buffalo Bills, giving him 1,070 yards and 13 total touchdowns on the season. But Hillis also put the ball on the ground three times against Buffalo -- losing one -- and has eight fumbles total this season, which leads the NFL.

Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson led the league in fumbling the past two seasons. But Hillis has the inside track to take that dubious distinction from Peterson this season. Ball security is something Hillis is working to improve in the final three games, starting Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"We worked on some things after practice, some little things," Hillis explained Thursday. "It's something that's conscious in your mind."

Because of his 6-foot-1, 240-pound frame, a lot of defenders have been going low and diving at Hillis' legs to bring him down. As a result, Hillis said he's developed a knack for hurdling defenders since high school, which has made the highlight reel but also is high risk and exposes the football.

More often than not, Hillis said it's worked for him throughout his career, and he's not doing it for show.

"It's instinctive," Hillis said. "I'm not a showy kind of player."

"He's made a lot of people regret decisions of trying to take him on high," Browns coach Eric Mangini said. "So I'll take my chances with Peyton and somebody leaping up and anticipating him leaping."

With very little depth at running back, Hillis will get the majority of carries for the Browns down the stretch. Therefore, ball security will be key.

Cleveland will play three division games against the Bengals (2-11), Baltimore Ravens (9-4) and Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3), and rest assured all three opponents will try to take advantage of Hillis' biggest weakness this season.