Hillis, Browns ready to run

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The Colts’ defensive specialty is to turn ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis loose.

“They’re special guys,” Hicks said. “Give them a chance to pin their ears back and get after that quarterback, and it can be a nightmare. We have to try to be successful on first and second downs and keep ourselves out of those Freeney and Mathis killer downs, which is third and long. They can pin their ears back.”

Shurmur’s West Coast offense favors the pass, but that doesn’t mean he’s opposed to grounding it out.

“I believe in running the football,” he said. “I think it’s important we do it and I feel we’ve got backs that can carry it.”

Montario Hardesty looked to be beyond his knee problems last weeks, showing some nice flashes while picking up 18 yards on six carries in his NFL debut. The Browns are confident Hardesty is healthy and believe he can be an effective change of pace to Hillis _ or paired with him.

“It’s important they both get their touches,” Shurmur said. “Peyton is our starting runner and you’d like to make sure he gets the football a bunch of times. Montario did some good things for his first real stretch back. Each day, he looks better and better running. He’s getting more and more comfortable with his leg and his body every day.”

Hillis is as healthy as ever.

He’s still adjusting to running behind rookie fullback Owen Marecic, who replaced Lawrence Vickers, and an offensive line with several new faces. Hillis believes he and the Browns are close to hitting their stride.

“There’s a little bit of a rhythm just getting started again in the first couple of games in the season,” he said. “Things are going to get back and I’m really not worried about it. It just takes a little time.”

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