That thud didn't just come from Browns running back Peyton Hillis flinging his helmet to the ground after re-injuring his hamstring at today's practice. It apparently is the sound of the plummeting locker room support for Hillis hitting rock bottom, according to a report on Yahoo Sports.
The website is reporting that his relationship is so strained with his teammates that the running back was "summoned [by eight veteran players] into a meeting room for an intervention-style, air-clearing session designed to restore his focus."
Hillis, who is earning $600,000 in the final year of his deal, has publicly voiced his concern over the lack of a contract extension. Some believe it's grown into such an issue that it's become a locker room distraction, according to the report.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” one Browns veteran told Yahoo Sports' Michael Silver. “Last year, Peyton was such a positive, inspirational force on our team -- but now he’s like a different guy. It’s like he’s in a funk that he can’t get out of, and it’s killing us, because we really need him. And we’ve told him that. But we’re at the point where we just don’t know what to do.”
Hillis' production has dropped significantly this season, going from 73.6 yards rushing per game in 2010 (15th in the NFL) to 52.8 yards per game this year (28th).
It's been a drama-filled second season for Hillis in Cleveland. In addition to the contract mess, he missed a game earlier this season with strep throat on the advice of his agent (which caused a controversy over whether he was really sick or protesting the lack of a new deal), failed to show up at a local Halloween party for children (which he blamed on a miscommunication) and went home to Arkansas on a Tuesday to get married during the season.
The Browns have put contract talks with Hillis on hold until the end of the season. If this report is accurate, the negotiations might not get restarted.