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Hillis returns to lineup with promising results in loss to Bengals

Just when we'd written off Peyton Hillis as the biggest one-hit wonder since Dishwalla, the Cleveland Browns running back has made his return.

The results in Sunday's 23-20 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals weren't awe-inspiring -- 19 carries for 65 yards -- but Hillis came out of the game healthy and confident his nightmare of a season can be salvaged with a strong closing stretch.

"It's tough when you don't know how things are going to go until you get in the rhythm of things," Hillis said, via The Plain Dealer. "Things started going well toward the middle of the game and toward the end. I expect big things. I expect to progress and I'm looking forward to next week."

Hillis missed Cleveland's past five games with a hamstring injury and sat out another -- infamously -- due to strep throat. Hillis' hamstring recovery was helped by a plasma-rich platelet injection, a kind of therapy believed to speed muscle repair. He practiced for the first time in three weeks on Friday, then was cleared to play shortly before kickoff on Sunday.

"He did surprisingly well as far as timing and making the right cuts," left tackle Joe Thomas said. "I think he'll be really happy watching the tape."

Hillis is still playing for a contract, though it won't be the big-money deal from the Browns he once pined for. Cleveland's final five games will serve as an audition for Hillis, who needs to prove his durability while trying to repair an image that veered from "hard workin' good ol' boy" to "fragile prima donna" faster than you can say "Madden cover jinx."

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