NASHVILLE – Mike Vrabel said Sunday that Dontrell Hilliard had done enough to earn more opportunities.
He earned a few more dollars too.
Tuesday, the Tennessee Titans signed the fourth-year running back to their active roster. He had been a member of the practice squad since Oct. 27 and appeared in two of the last four games as a standard elevation to the active roster.
His agent announced the move on Twitter.
The team confirmed the news later in the day along with a host of other transactions, including the release of running back Adrian Peterson and the addition of wide receiverHilliard set career-highs with seven rushes, 35 rushing yards, eight receptions and 47 receiving yards in Sunday’s 22-13 loss to the Houston Texans. He was the Titans’ leading receiver and became the first back to average at least 5.0 yards per carry in a game since Derrick Henry was injured.
Hilliard effectively replaced the injured Jeremy McNichols (concussion) and played 51 snaps on offense, which was more than Adrian Peterson and D’Onta Foreman combined (15 each). He also returned three kickoffs for an average of 21.7 yards after Marcus Johnson was injured late in the second quarter.
“He was able to function in there in a very uncomfortable setting,” Vrabel said Tuesday. “All of a sudden, he’s learning the third down [package], he’s learning the two-minute [package], and now the second half turns into something of a two-minute game. He handled that and jumped in there.
“So, we’ll keep working with Dontrell.”
Undrafted out of Tulane in 2018, he spent two-plus seasons with the Cleveland Browns and finished 2020 with two appearances for the Texans. Houston released him during this year’s preseason.
“[I am] definitely having fun,” Hilliard said Sunday. “Glad to get into it. I want to thank God for the opportunity. I want to thank my coaches for just believing in me and trusting me to go out there and play. I want to thank everyone in this organization.”