Fearing Peyton Hillis was weakened from strep throat and could risk injury, his agent advised the Browns' bruising back not to play on Sept. 25 against Miami.
Hillis left Browns Stadium about two hours before kickoff, a decision that has led to speculation he was upset over ongoing negotiations with the club on a contract extension.
However, agent Kennard McGuire told The Associated Press that Hillis was too sick to play, and that he could have jeopardized his career if he played at less than 100 percent.
"I would give him the same advice to him or any of my clients as if he were my son," McGuire said. "The game is physical enough, and the way Peyton plays the game, he needs all the elements of his physical game. Him being sick, and the level of his sickness, is the equivalent of being injured."
In the aftermath of Hillis' decision not to play, suspicions have been raised about the 25-year-old's motives and some have questioned if he sat out in protest.
On Sunday, citing unidentified sources, ESPN reported that some players in Cleveland's locker room wondered if Hillis' contract situation was a factor in him deciding not to play. McGuire was disturbed that if there were teammates who felt that way, they should have had the "courage" to speak out publicly.
Around the league
Packers: Wide receiver Jordy Nelson confirmed Wednesday that he had signed a contract extension that will keep him on the team through the 2014 season. Nelson, a second-round pick out of Kansas State in 2008, has 15 catches for 292 yards and three touchdowns in four games — including a 50-yard touchdown in a rout of Denver on Sunday.
■ Reigning Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers shrugged off remarks made by Brett Favre that could be interpreted as a subtle attempt to minimize Rodgers' achievements.
In a radio interview with Atlanta's 790 The Zone, Favre said he wasn't surprised Rodgers won a Super Bowl, saying "the biggest surprise to me would be that he didn't do it sooner" and that Rodgers "just kind of fell into a good situation."
To which Rodgers said, "I'm just going to say that I was really proud of our team. It takes 53 guys to win a championship and we had the right recipe last year and we're trying to do the same thing this season."
Steelers: Offensive lineman Max Starks, cut for salary-cap purposes before training camp started, re-signed with Pittsburgh on a one-year deal. The Steelers are hoping the seven-year veteran can provide depth and leadership to an injury-ravaged unit that has struggled protecting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Panthers: Tight end Jeremy Shockey was held out of practice Wednesday with a concussion, and Coach Ron Rivera said he will be reevaluated Thursday. Since Week 2, the Panthers have had one starter each week out with a concussion.
Jets: Plaxico Burress insists his swollen left elbow won't keep him out of Sunday's game against the Patriots. The wide receiver did not practice Wednesday after the elbow swelled up in the middle of the night. He fell on it during a 34-17 loss at Baltimore last Sunday.