Just prior to the start of Buccaneers training camp, Tampa Bay added experience to the running back position by signing veteran Peyton Hillis to a one-year deal. The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Hillis worked out for the team at One Buccaneer Place on Tuesday.
On the eve of Buccaneers players reporting for training camp, Tampa Bay added experienced depth to its running back stable by signing Peyton Hillis, who is entering his fifth season in the league out of Arkansas. Hillis, who tried out with the Buccaneers on Tuesday along with NFL veterans tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and defensive tackle Tommie Harris, signed a one-year deal with Tampa Bay.
The Bucs are looking for a primary backup to starter Doug Martin, who rushed for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns on 319 carries during a sensational rookie season. Hillis will compete with Michael Smith, Brian Leonard, Mike James, the team's sixth-round pick in 2013, Matt Brown and Jeff Demps for the right to back up Martin.
Of the current running backs on the Bucs roster, only Leonard has any starting experience, starting eight of the 71 games he's played in during his six years in the NFL. Hillis has started 33 of the 65 games he's played in during his four years in the NFL.
Hillis has rushed for 2,470 yards and 21 touchdowns on 597 carries playing for Denver (2008-09), Cleveland (2010-11) and Kansas City (2012).
After two seasons with the Broncos where his carries were limited, Hillis had a breakout year in 2010, rushing for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns on 270 carries (4.4 avg.) in his first year with the Browns. He also caught a career-high 61 passes for 477 yards and two additional TDs.
Hillis became a fan favorite in Cleveland, and even landed on the cover of the popular Madden video game the following year, but didn't find much success after squabbling with the team in asking for a lucrative contract extension. In 2011, Hillis carried the ball 161 times for 587 yards (3.6 avg.) and only three scores, while catching 22 passes for 130 yards. Those disappointing numbers prompted Cleveland to let him go after the season.
The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Hillis, who has been described as a slightly lesser version of Tampa Bay's legendary fullback Mike Alstott, spent the 2012 campaign with Kansas City where the disappointment continued. Hillis rushed for 309 yards and one touchdown on 85 carries (3.6 avg.) and did not show the tackle-breaking ability he displayed in his big year in Cleveland during the 2010 season.
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