Browns' Hillis practices, could return from two-game absence

BEREA, Ohio -- Browns starting running back Peyton Hillis made it through his first practice in a week without any trouble and intends to play Sunday at Houston.

Hillis has missed Cleveland's past two games with a strained left hamstring he injured against Oakland on Oct. 16. On Thursday, Hillis practiced for the first time since Oct. 26 and was able to run and cut without any difficulty.

"I'm on pace to be healthy and play Sunday," he said afterward. "That's what I'm looking forward to and that's what I'm hoping to do."

Hillis practiced one day last week, but suffered a setback and was kept out of Sunday's 20-10 loss at San Francisco. Hillis said he didn't have any problems and was able to do everything he wanted during Thursday's entire two-hour session.

"It was OK," he said. "I was a little hesitant, but I got three days and I was just trying to come back easy and slowly progress and get ready for Sunday. I'm obviously better. I went through practice and was smarter about it. I felt more confident and comfortable by going out there and doing what I usually do."

Browns coach Pat Shurmur had anticipated Hillis practicing Wednesday, but Hillis was kept out to get treatment.

The Browns need Hillis, whose second season in Cleveland has been shrouded in controversy, to get healthy. Backup Montario Hardesty is out this week with a torn calf muscle and could miss several games. Chris Ogbonnaya was signed off Houston's practice squad two weeks ago and the team signed free agent Thomas Clayton earlier this week after a tryout.

"I've always thought they could use me," he said. "It's been tough not to be with the guys the last couple weeks, especially since I came out last week and reinjured it. I feel like the guys are looking up to me and need me to come out there to produce for them and for the team. They expect a lot out of me, probably even more than I expect from myself, that makes me want to work harder for them.

"At this point, I'm trying to get healthy and trying to make sure I don't do anything stupid by going out there and reinjuring or re-aggravating anything and try to get back Sunday."

Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi practiced for the first time since suffering a concussion on Oct. 23. He sat out last week's game. Massaquoi said his symptoms were different from what he experienced last season when he got a concussion from a helmet-to-helmet hit by Steelers linebacker James Harrison.

"I don't think the impact was as forceful," he said. "It was just one of those things. I got hit in the right way. We have one of the best medical staffs in the league. So I feel really good, ready to go back out there and play."

Notes: CB Dimitri Patterson (knee) missed his second straight practice and will likely miss Sunday's game. ... Shurmur isn't planning to replace Tony Pashos at right starting tackle. Both Artis Hicks and Oneil Cousins shared reps in practice with Pashos, who has been battling an ankle injury, but Shurmur said "I wouldn't read into that."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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