Hilliard could serve as the bridge to Kareem Hunt (suspension) if the Browns don't work things out with Duke Johnson, Steve Doerschuk of The Canton Repository reports.
With Johnson requesting a trade and skipping the voluntary offseason program, Hilliard has taken advantage of his opportunity to make a strong impression on new running backs coach Stump Mitchell. The second-year pro caught on with Cleveland as an undrafted rookie last season, logging 58 snaps on offense (nine catches, zero carries) and 149 on special teams. Hilliard's skill as a pass catcher would make him a natural complement to Nick Chubb early in the season while Hunt serves an eight-game suspension. It's possible Hilliard's strong performance at spring practices could make the Browns more willing to trade Johnson.
Hilliard has been in the mix at kick returner during the Browns' offseason workouts, Andrew Gribble of the team's official site reports.
Hilliard rarely saw action on offense in 2018, playing 58 snaps in 11 games while failing to earn any carries or receptions. He made a bigger impact on special teams, taking back 11 kicks for 264 yards. He'll face competition for kick-return duties from Antonio Callaway, Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi and D'Ernest Johnson.
While Hilliard didn't receive a carry, Hilliard caught nine of 10 targets for 105 yards in 2018.
Hilliard joined the Browns as an undrafted free agent this past offseason and was eventually promoted to the practice squad in early October. He was used mostly on special teams, but the rookie showed his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield when he caught four passes for 40 yards against the Texans in Week 13. He'll likely fight for a roster spot in 2019.
Hilliard caught both of his targets for 20 yards in Sunday's 26-20 win over the Panthers.
Though Hilliard played just four snaps on offense, he still managed to catch two passes. This comes on the heels of a four-catch performance in Week 13. He's become more involved in the offense over the past few weeks and could continue to see more work.
Hilliard caught all four of his targets for 40 yards in Sunday's 29-13 loss to the Texans.
Usually a role designed for Duke Johnson, Hilliard made his mark as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, setting career highs in catches and yards. The rookie out of Tulane had recorded just two catches prior to Sunday's matchup and is still in search of his first NFL carry.
Hilliard didn't carry the ball, but he caught his only target for 24 yards during Sunday's 33-18 loss to Pittsburgh.
Hilliard played just eight fewer snaps on offense than Duke Johnson and managed to haul in his first NFL pass. However, unless Johnson and/or Carlos Hyde go down with injury, Hilliard's involvement in the offense doesn't figure to change.
Hilliard signed with the Browns' 53-man roster from the practice squad Tuesday.
The former Tulane standout went undrafted and signed with the Browns' practice squad earlier this season. Hilliard has yet to see regular season NFL action, but he recorded 32 rushes for 82 yards while adding two receptions for 28 yards during the preseason.
Hilliard was added to the Browns' 11-man practice squad, Dan Labbe of Cleveland.com reports.
The Tulane product was able to crack his way onto the Browns' practice squad, where he'll have the chance to impress the Cleveland front office away from the spotlight. There have been guys who have carved out nice career paths after getting a start on a practice squad before, so even though the odds are slim, Hilliard still has an opportunity ahead of him.