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Should Peyton Hillis start in Week 1?

9/1/2010

Jerome Harrison has fumbling issues, and rookie Montario Hardesty missed all of training camp with a knee injury.

Therefore, should Peyton Hillis be the starting tailback in Week 1 for the Cleveland Browns?

Hillis has taken advantage of his opportunities. Acquired this offseason from the Denver Broncos in the Brady Quinn trade, Hillis leads the Browns in rushing this preseason with 80 yards and a touchdown. He's also showed nice hands with nine receptions for 86 yards and is impressing Cleveland's coaching staff with his versatility.

The Browns are implementing ways to use Hillis, but should his role be expanded as their starter? It may depend on his competition's progress.

Harrison, who led Cleveland with 862 rushing yards last year, is the incumbent but looks listless so far. He's averaging just 3.1 yards per carry in three exhibition games. In addition, Harrison's three fumbles the past two games are concerning. The Browns cannot afford to have their primary rusher displaying poor ball security.

Meanwhile, Hardesty was unable to follow up an impressive minicamp with a knee sprain. This year's second-round pick could be the long-term solution in Cleveland, but Hardesty has fallen behind and likely is out of the running to start in Week 1. He will make his NFL debut in Thursday's preseason finale against the Chicago Bears.

That leaves Hillis, who is Cleveland's most productive running back so far. He may not be the fastest or most flashy, but Hillis might be the Browns' safest option to start the season.