The new Madden game is released at midnight, and it features Browns running back Peyton Hillis on the cover.
But Hillis says he isn’t thinking about the fact that his face will be on a plastic box that will get cast aside in millions of homes after the contents are placed in one of the various consoles on which it can be played.
“No, just because we are in the middle of football now and the regular season is in a couple of weeks,” Hillis said Monday. “We have our last preseason game. I am more focused on that right now instead of the game.”
Still, he likes the fact that he was voted by fans to appear on the cover.
“It’s exciting,” Hillis. “I’ve been very blessed and I am kind of speechless at times, but you never can lose focus. You never can stay enough humbled. You just have to go out there and do what you can. I am very grateful for the opportunity that I had, but it’s time to move on and get focused on more important things.”
Helping Hillis stay focused is the presence of Montarrio Hardesty, a second-round pick in 2010 who missed all of his rookie season with a knee injury. Coach Pat Shurmur recently gushed about Hardesty’s potential.
“I know why [G.M.] Tom [Heckert] drafted him because I evaluated him when he came out,” Shurmur said Saturday. “I just had a different mailing address. I think we’re starting to see what he is and was in college. I’m hopeful that he’s going to get to that level.”
So what does Shurmur like about Hardesty? “I think he’s quick,” Shurmur said. “I think he’s got excellent vision. Again, much like a lineman blocking in there, the holes and creases aren’t always large and you’ve got to be able to press it and jump through it. I think he can do that well. He has the instinct to run to daylight. I think he’s a solid guy in terms of his physique where he can be a good pass protector and I think he also catches the ball well. That’s what we expect to see.”
If Hardesty stays healthy, the Browns could end up having a Warrick Dunn/Mike Alstott dynamic, possibly with both players on the field at the same time. (Actually, given Hardesty’s size, it could be more like a Mike Alstott/Mike Alstott dynamic.)
“I think we’ve put in packages of plays that we can either run with a fullback and a traditional tailback, two tailbacks or two fullbacks,” Shurmur said. “How we use those guys would be based on who’s healthy and available each week. If we have a roster where we’re going in and playing a game where Montario and Peyton are both available I think it makes sense to put them in there a small percentage of the time.”
For now, Shurmur can experiment with his H&H formations on Madden; Hillis provided the coach with a free copy of the game.
The only problem? Hillis gave Shurmur a copy of the game for a system other than the system that Shurmur’s kid uses.