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Published: Thursday, 3/15/2012

Chiefs sign free-agent running back Peyton Hillis to bolster ground game

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis (40) leaps over Baltimore Ravens defenders in a December, 2011, game in Baltimore. Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis (40) leaps over Baltimore Ravens defenders in a December, 2011, game in Baltimore.
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs signed running back Peyton Hillis on Wednesday, giving the team a formidable duo in the ground game with Jamaal Charles.

It could also serve as a fresh start for Hillis, who had a drama- and injury-filled second season in Cleveland after rushing for 1,177 yards in 2010.

Terms of the deal weren't immediately disclosed.

Hillis won a nationwide fan vote to be the cover figure for "Madden NFL 12" last offseason, but then rushed for just 587 yards.

He sat out last Sept. 25 against Miami with a bout of strep throat, an incident that didn't sit well with some teammates. He also missed a treatment for his ailing hamstring when he left during a work week to get married. Hillis also has changed agents multiple times in the last year.

"Things didn't work in my favor this year," Hillis said in December. "There's a few things that happened this year that made me believe in curses. Ain't no doubt about it."

With the Chiefs, Hillis will be reunited with Brian Daboll, his former offensive coordinator in Cleveland who is now in the same position in Kansas City.

Hillis has played fullback and tailback during his career, the type of versatility that made him attractive to the Chiefs. His bulldozing style also will help complement Charles and the speedy Dexter McCluster in the backfield.

Hillis also could carry the load as the lead rusher if Charles isn't fully recovered from a knee injury that sidelined him for the season after Week 2.

Kansas City needed to sign another rusher after allowing running backs Thomas Jones and Jackie Battle, and fullback Le'Ron McClain to become free agents this week.

Hillis, a seventh-round pick out of Arkansas in 2008, also played two seasons with Denver. He originally started at fullback, but became the No. 1 ballcarrier — and a fan favorite — as a rookie when several of the Broncos' running backs landed on injured reserve.

After not being used much by then-Broncos coach Josh McDaniels in 2009, Hillis was traded to Cleveland for two draft picks and quarterback Brady Quinn. He was slated to be the Browns' starting fullback, but again took over the featured role because of injuries and ran for 1,000 yards for the first time.

Hillis has rushed for 2,161 yards and 20 touchdowns in four seasons, and has caught 101 passes for 805 yards and three scores.



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