Apparently Peyton Hillis needed more than a few hot bowls of soup to get on the field last Sunday.
The Browns running back sat out the 17-16 win over the Miami Dolphins because of a fever and strep throat. His temperature late last week reached close to 102 degrees, but he was more concerned about the loss of weight.
When Hillis' condition hadn't improved by the time he arrived at Cleveland Browns Stadium last Sunday, he was sent home. He slept for most of the first three and a half quarters, awakening in time to watch the game-winning touchdown drive.
Hillis feels much better this week as he prepares to return to the lineup against the Tennessee Titans. He's gained back most of the 10 to 12 pounds he lost.
"I'm 100 percent now," Hillis said. "I'm anxious and ready to get back out there."
Hillis can't afford to miss much playing time as he chases goals on and off the field. Surpassing the 1,000-yard rushing mark for a second straight season is one objective. Another is to join the growing list of teammates that have signed lucrative, long-term contracts.
Hillis is in the final year of a rookie contract that pays him $550,000 this season. Browns president Mike Holmgren is on record as saying the team wants to lock up Hillis for a long time. General manager Tom Heckert declined to comment about Hillis' contract situation when asked last week.
The Browns, who are in a favorable salary-cap situation, have been busy of late in extending the contracts of players. Tight end Evan Moore signed a two-year, $6 million extension. Defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin signed for another three years at $27 million, and four-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Joe Thomas signed a seven-year extension worth $84 million. Linebacker Chris Gocong joined the list Thursday when he inked a three-year extension worth $16.8 million.
Hillis could be next up in the Browns' spending spree. If he's thinking about what his teammates have received and what might await him, he's not saying.
"I know other people might think differently, but it's really out of my mind," Hillis said. "Like I've said before, if the Browns want to extend me, they will. That really puts the ball into my court. All I can do is what I can control."
It might not be easy for Hillis to reach his totals of last season (1,177 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns). Defenses are paying more attention to him than they did early last season, when he had the element of surprise working in his favor.
Another factor is the growing presence of Montario Hardesty, who rushed for 67 yards on 14 carries against the Dolphins. There's no way that coach Pat Shurmur can keep Hardesty's breakaway potential locked up the sideline.
Hillis is aware that the number of touches he gets each week will likely diminish as the season progresses.
"It's a backfield that has depth," Hillis said. "Montario is a great player. He did a good job of going out there, and he contributes. You know you don't have to go out there and do it all on your own. You know you have guys behind you."
Still, there's a part of Hillis that embraces the way he was utilized last season, which is to say he was the majority of the offense.
"I believe I'm a competitor, and I'm going to go out there and give my best, no matter what," he said. "If my body holds up, it holds up. If it doesn't, it's out of my control."