In three short years, Peyton Hillis has gone from the lead dog in the Dawg Pound to a mongrel fighting for table scraps on one of the worst teams in the NFL.
Hillis saw significant action Monday night for the New York Giants against the Minnesota Vikings. Starter Brandon Jacobs, who is subbing for injured David Wilson, who was subbing for injured Andre Brown, is nursing a hamstring injury and missed the game. That left the door open for the newly-signed Hillis.
“I’ve been very humbled over the past couple of years,” Hillis said this week, via the Newark Star Ledger. “I’ve really found my place. Wherever I am I’m trying to do what is best for the team whether it helps me or not. I feel like if this opportunity hadn’t come along, I probably wouldn’t have another opportunity.”
Hillis actually had to compete with other free agents for his spot on the roster. But he’s no stranger to competition. Three years ago in Cleveland he rushed for 11 touchdowns and more than 1,000 yards and has been with various teams since then.
“It’s been tough because I feel like I never had a real opportunity,” Hillis said. “I went to Kansas City and I was playing behind a great back in Jamaal Charles. Then, I went to Tampa behind another good back in Doug Martin and I never got to play there, either. I just really haven’t found the niche that I need to stay with a team and produce for them.”
Giants coach Tom Coughlin is not known for his patience, so it’s likely that Hillis will keep his spot only as long as he produced. If he doesn’t, the Giants likely will keep playing running-back roulette for the remainder of the season.