Chiefs-Browns Preview

The Kansas City Chiefs’ search for normalcy may go on for much

longer than the remaining NFL schedule.

For Brady Quinn and Peyton Hillis, a different type of closure

is at hand.

With emotions still prevalent after last week’s tragic events,

Quinn will try to lead the Chiefs to another victory when he and

Hillis return to Cleveland to face the Browns for the first time

Sunday.

Kansas City (2-10) is still grieving the death of linebacker

Jovan Belcher, who killed his girlfriend and then turned the gun on

himself in front of coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott

Pioli last weekend.

Despite the tragedy, the Chiefs were on the field the following

day, and beat Carolina 27-21 to end an eight-game slide amid strong

emotions at Arrowhead Stadium.

“We have to deal with the events of the last few days, and it’s

not over, and it may not be over for some of us for most of our

lives, but time heals all wounds, and so we’re going to start

working on the time thing,” Crennel said.

A visit to Cleveland (4-8) may provide a chance for some focus

for at least Quinn and Hillis.

Quinn was drafted 22nd overall out of Notre Dame by Crennel and

the Browns in 2007, but never lived up to lofty expectations and

was dealt to Denver for Hillis and two draft picks in March 2010.

He won only three of 12 games as a starter with Cleveland,

finishing his 14-game tenure there with 10 touchdowns, nine

interceptions and a 66.8 passer rating.

After spending two years on the bench with the Broncos, Quinn

reunited with Crennel in Kansas City and has been given a second

chance following ineffectiveness and a concussion to starter Matt

Cassel.

He’s finally making it count. Quinn completed 19 of 23 passes

for 201 yards and two touchdowns last week – his first scoring

passes since Dec. 6, 2009. He was widely praised even more for his

leadership qualities in a somber post-game press conference,

discussing the recent murder-suicide.

“I feel like I can do a decent job of adjusting to pretty much

anything,” Quinn said. “I think anytime you have an opportunity to

play more and get more experience, you’re going to continue to grow

and improve as a player.”

Hillis, meanwhile, is still waiting his turn after signing a

one-year contract with the Chiefs following two vastly differing

seasons with the Browns.

The bruising running back was the toast of Cleveland in 2010,

setting career highs in rushing yards (1,177), carries (270),

receptions (61), receiving yards (477) and touchdowns (13).

He tried to turn that brief stardom into a big contract, but

instead proved to be a headache in an injury-plagued 2011. Hillis

was limited to 587 yards and three TDs in 10 games, and Cleveland’s

Joe Thomas wasn’t shy about expressing his disdain for his former

teammate.

“He was everything people knew about him – hard-working,

blue-collar, tough, would do anything for anybody on the team,”

Thomas said. “All he cared about was winning, and then all of a

sudden the next year, all he cared about was trying to get his new

contract.

“He crippled our offense. To have Peyton going through a

contract dispute and basically refusing to play, it was a big

distraction. I think it was better for both sides (he left). At

that point, the situation with him here was toxic and he didn’t

want to be here and players didn’t want him here. It was better for

a fresh start.”

Not better for Hillis, who has 193 yards and a touchdown on 59

carries. He fired back at Thomas on Thursday.

“Joe Thomas, he can have his opinions all he wants. It’s kind of

like a crazy ex-girlfriend, you know? It’s been over a year. Get on

with it.”

It’s unlikely the Browns will see a heavy dose of Hillis since

Jamaal Charles is among the league’s top rushers with 1,055 yards

with 4.8 per carry.

Cleveland, though, has held opponents to 65.7 rushing yards over

the last three games, winning 20-17 at Oakland last Sunday for its

second straight victory. That may have eased the pressure on

embattled coach Pat Shurmur.

“I don’t want to talk about my future, OK?” he said. “I’m trying

to get our team ready to play the Chiefs and then after that and so

on and so forth. I don’t look at it that way. I’m not taking any

half-swings here. We’ll just play it out and see what happens.

“I feel good about where we’re going, we’ve just got to keep

going.”

Part of that encouragement may stem from a season-high 475 yards

of offense last week, and improvement from Brandon Weeden.

The rookie has completed 63.9 percent of his passes for 732

yards with four touchdowns and three picks over the past three

games, and is coming off a season-high 364 yards through the air

against the Raiders.