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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Thomas raves about Hillis

By Marla Published: September 26, 2010

While bashing the Ravens for 144 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown, Browns running back Peyton Hillis found a big admirer in left tackle Joe Thomas.

Thomas loved the explosion of Hillis, who dashed for a career-long 43-yard run in the second quarter.

"I'm really impressed with him,'' Thomas said. ''He's known as a big, physical running back. But the thing that impressed me the most today was him getting outside, a couple of those long runs he's showing he's got speed, he can run. He's a physical specimen, he's very smart and I'm really glad he's on our team.''

Most of Hillis's damage came from running up the middle. He recorded the most rushing yards given up by the Ravens since 2005.

''Typically teams aren't able to run right at that defense,'' Thomas said. ''When you can do that you're kind of getting them on their heels, they're searching for answers, 'What have we got to do to stop them? This is our bread and butter and we're getting beat at it.'

"I thought we did a nice job. That's a great run defense. Today we racked up the yards. But in a game that's going to be won on the ground, it's going to come down to some small things at the end, to one or two plays, and that's what happened. We've got to learn to execute down the stretch.''

When it comes to Hillis and offensive linemen, the love affair is mutual.

''It was amazing. I love those guys up front,'' Hillis said. ''They're great teammates. We showed today we can run the ball against one of the best defenses in the league.''

Hillis admitted the Browns (0-3) are still searching for their identity.

''Right now it's a lot of finding ourselves and what we need to do,'' he said. "A lot of people don't give us much of a chance, but we know what we have on this team. It's not like we didn't move the ball. It's not like we didn't score touchdowns. I don't think anybody had a touchdown on the Baltimore Ravens until this week and we had two. We had over 300 yards of total offense. We have a great team. We have to minimize the mistakes and move forward.

"You see glimpses of greatness on our team. I don't care what anybody else says, media, sports talk, writers, we can play with anybody. We've just got to learn how to finish.''

Browns quarterback Seneca Wallace is glad he doesn't have to tackle Hillis, a solid 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds.

''He's a load,'' Wallace said. ''He's a great runner. He's going to give you at least 1 or 2 yards with each pop, even if they load the box. Him running downhill is a good thing.''

Hillis drew praise from Ravens defenders.

''Hillis did a great job of finding those holes,'' Ravens nose tackle Haloti Ngata said. ''With a big back like that, once he gets that full head of steam going, it's hard for anyone to stop him. We had to adjust a little bit and shut those holes. He did basically the same thing against Tampa Bay and Kansas City.''

Hillis leads the Browns in rushing (220 yards, 5.6 per carry), receiving (14 catches, 86 yards) and touchdowns (3).

''I always have the belief in myself, that I can have a big game,'' Hillis said. ''Throughout my past, no one ever gave me much of a shot to do anything individually. But with my faith in the Lord and what I have, I know that I can achieve anything. Today was a very good day for me individually, but overall we still got the loss and that's not good.''

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