Peyton Hillis says deal 'not an issue'

Updated: October 3, 2011, 7:58 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Running back Peyton Hillis, who missed the Cleveland Browns' Week 3 game with strep throat, maintains he sat out the game due to his illness and not because of his unresolved contract status.

"That's shouldn't even be an issue," Hillis told reporters on Sunday after the Browns' 31-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans. "That's not an issue in my brain. I'll go out there and I'll play. But if I know I'm not 100 percent and I can hurt my team, I'm not going to risk myself."

Sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that a handful of Hillis' teammates believed the running back's contract situation entered into his decision to sit out the Browns' victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Hillis' agent, Kennard McGuire, told ESPN's Schefter that whispers his client missed the game over his contract "couldn't be further from the truth." Hillis' 2011 salary is $600,000.

Browns coach Pat Shurmur said he was made aware of the report following the game.

"You would have to try to find out who is talking ... because it didn't come from me," Shurmur said. "I don't know anything about that. Peyton was sick, that was my understanding."

Shurmur spent a large portion of his news conference on Monday addressing the Hillis situation. He insisted Hillis remains a big part of Cleveland's offense and isn't being penalized for sitting out last week.

"The young man was sick and he didn't play," Shurmur said. "OK, that's the end of it. He played yesterday and I think that's what the important thing is. Two weeks ago he didn't play. We played the Miami Dolphins and won. Yesterday, he was a significant contributor and we didn't win."

Shurmur also expressed disappointment in ESPN's report.

"When information gets out you obviously like to see names attached to it," he said. "I am aware enough to know that there are all kinds of ways information spreads now. I've expressed to the team that I would prefer that we keep business in-house and I think sometimes that's hard to do.

"I can't really control how the team feels about certain situations other than we're constantly talking about being very professional, about doing your job and doing those types of things."

Shurmur said he did not hear any players "grumbling" about Hillis missing the game.

Hillis rushed for 46 yards on 10 carries against the Titans, but he had just two attempts after halftime as the Browns were behind and forced to pass to get back into it.

During the week, Hillis explained that he lost weight while he was ill, and that he chose not to play after arriving at the stadium because he couldn't help the team.

On Monday, Browns right tackle Tony Pashos and rookie wide receiver Greg Little were in their teammates' corner.

"Peyton's our guy," Pashos said. "He's a stud. The whole city of Cleveland loves him. That's my boy and I want to have as many yards as possible because it makes everybody's job easier."

Said Little, "I don't take those sources to be very credible. I just think that's coming from very thin air. I think Peyton is a big enough competitor that he wants to come out and play on every Sunday and wants to do well. I don't second guess his talent at all and I think Peyton is one of the best backs in this league."

Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and The Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO SEE