Browns' Peyton Hillis sent home sick

Updated: September 24, 2011, 9:06 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

BEREA, Ohio -- Browns running back Peyton Hillis missed Cleveland's practice because he felt sick Friday, two days before Cleveland hosts winless Miami.

Coach Pat Shurmur said Hillis wasn't feeling well when he arrived at the training facility. The Browns felt it was best for Hillis to go home and get rest. Shurmur said the star running back's absence had nothing to do with any other injuries.

A source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Hillis has strep throat.

Shurmur believes Hillis, who is talks with the Browns on a multiyear contract extension, will be available Sunday when the Browns (1-1) host the Dolphins (0-2).

"Whatever it is, we don't feel like it will affect him on Sunday," Shurmur said after the Browns worked out in their indoor field house. "We felt the best course of action was to just send him home and give him the best opportunity to get as much rest and fluids as we could."

The Browns listed him as questionable -- a 50 percent chance of playing -- on the week's final injury report.

With Hillis out, Montario Hardesty got the majority of plays in practice with Cleveland's starting offense. Hardesty rushed for one yard on three carries last week in Indianapolis. The second-year back didn't touch the ball until the fourth quarter and fumbled on his second carry.

Hardesty, who missed last season after undergoing knee surgery, said he's ready if Hillis can't go.

"I'm confident in my body and I'm confident in my mental reps," Hardesty said. "I'm ready to go out there."

The timing of Hillis' absence isn't good for the Browns, who are hoping to build off their win over the Colts. It also has raised suspicions that Hillis could be upset with his contract situation.

On Thursday, Hillis appeared to injure himself during a drill at the beginning of practice. He slipped making a cut outside and spiked the ball in frustration. He stretched briefly and held his back but stayed on the field and looked fine as he continued working with Cleveland's other backs.

In the locker room after practice, Hillis briefly discussed his contract situation. He said agent Kennard McGuire has been keeping him informed of ongoing talks with the Browns, and promised any continued negotiations would not impact his play or be a distraction this season.

"It's not up to me in the end," he said. "When people say they want to stop negotiating it's because they want to play better and they don't want the (salary) figure to hang over their heads. If they want to come back and talk, I'm open. It's whenever and I'll keep that frame of mind."

Hillis rushed for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, his first with the Browns. It was a breakout year for the smashmouth runner, raising his national profile and helping him win a fan vote to grace the cover of Madden 12, the popular video game. Hillis scored two touchdowns last week in Cleveland's win at Indianapolis.

On Thursday, Browns general manager Tom Heckert refused to discuss Hillis' contract situation, saying the team would only comment "when a deal is done."

The Browns have made it a priority to sign core players to extensions, and in the past month they've finalized new deals with Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas, tight end Evan Moore and defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.