The Associated Press is reporting that Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis re-injured his hamstring during practice on Friday. He had just returned to practice on Thursday after sitting out for a week because of the same hamstring.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Hillis will be listed as "questionable" on the team's injury report but will miss at least this week's game.
Hillis has had a 2011 season to forget thus far. Not only has he come under fire as a result of his contract dispute with the Browns, but he has barely made an impact on the field. He was criticized for sitting out the second game of the season with strep throat, a decision some believe to be related to his dissatisfaction with his financial situation. Even when Hillis has played, he hasn't been nearly as effective as he was last year, rushing for nearly a full yard less per carry and accumulating no 100-yard games thus far.
A recent Yahoo! Sports report has claimed that Hillis is losing support in the Browns locker room, citing one veteran player who said of Hillis, "Last year, Peyton was such a positive, inspirational force on our team -- but now he's like a different guy."
Some are invoking the "Madden Curse" to explain Hillis' poor performance. According to those who believe, any player featured on the cover of the Madden branded football video game will not live up to expectations the following season. After Hillis was voted by fans to appear on the cover, he insisted he would break the supposed curse.
"For people to believe in this so-called curse, I can't wait to prove people wrong," he told ESPN last April. "From what I believe and where I am in my spiritual life, it would be good to prove them wrong in that sense."
But upon news of this latest injury, many people, including the NFL's official Twitter page, chalked it up to being another example of the Madden curse in action.
Whether curses are real or not is inconsequential to the Browns at this point--if Hillis can't play Sunday, because of an injury to his backup Montario Hardesty they will likely be forced to start Chris Ogbannaya, a player they signed off the Texans' practice roster in mid-October.