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Monday, November 18, 2013
Stephen Hill on verge of losing starting job

By Rich Cimini

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Wide receiver Stephen Hill became a starter the moment he was picked in the second round of the 2012 draft. Those days could be over.

Hill, who has gone two straight games without a catch, is in jeopardy of losing his job, according to New York Jets coach Rex Ryan.

"Yeah, that will be a consideration," Ryan said Monday.

In other words, it will be a surprise if Hill keeps his job.

Hill has been a non-factor in six consecutive games. For the season, he has only 23 receptions despite the fact that he has played a team-high 517 snaps at wide receiver. The lowpoint occurred Sunday against the Buffalo Bills: Hill had no catches despite seven targets.

Ryan, who rarely criticizes players in public, delivered an unusually blunt evaluation of Hill.

"It certainly hasn't been what we thought it would be and where we hoped it would be," he said. "I know the want-to is there, it's just that the production hasn't been there for whatever reason."

Ryan noted that opponents might be paying more attention to Hill, but that seemed like a bit of a stretch. The fact is, Hill is a one-dimensional receiver -- a vertical threat -- whose importance has been minimized because of the overall struggles of the passing game.

"It's frustrating to him, to all of us," said Ryan, who wasn't keen on the idea of trading up for Hill and picking him in the second round. "We've been expecting bigger things from Stephen and, quite honestly, it just hasn't happened."

The Jets took a chance on Hill because of his size and speed, but he was a raw receiver coming out of Georgia Tech, where he was used mostly as a blocker in a triple-option offense.

Hill likely would be replaced by David Nelson, who has 17 catches in only six games since being signed as a free agent.