- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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FLORHAM PARK N.J. -- Whenever Jets head coach Rex Ryan says Stephen Hill needs to step up, as he did publicly Monday and does in conversation each week, the rookie receiver feels no pressure.
"It's just something that's supposed to be done," Hill said.
The Jets hope to keep their slim playoff hopes alive Sunday against Arizona, and Hill is ready to step up and perform the way his coach expects him to. It's been a rough stretch for the rookie, who has just four catches in the past four weeks, including two in last week's loss to New England.
New York Jets
"It's definitely a little fire that gets to you because you see that a coach believes in you and he wants the ball in your hands," Hill said. "It's just a good thing. And I guess you can say it's a plus for the coach to come up and say those things -- and you got to be that sponge and get the job done."
Hill said he keeps a running conversation with his head coach, and knows what the expectations are. Ryan sees big things coming from Hill after the team traded up to acquire him in the second round.
"I like the way he played (against New England). He was confident in that game. I saw him just by the way he was running routes and everything else," Ryan said. "I think it's now to the point where he's wanting the football and we'll see."
The Jets need Hill this week as he's the lone healthy receiver. Clyde Gates has a concussion and will likely miss the game, Chaz Schilens has yet to be cleared for contact with a concussion, and Jeremy Kerley was limited in practice Wednesday with heel and hamstring issues and an unrelated illness. Ryan joked that newly signed receiver Mardy Gilyard would start, going so far as to laugh at the sticky situation the team would be in if that was the case.
After going two straight weeks without a catch, Hill had two catches for 16 yards last week against the Patriots. While that game didn't turn heads, the rookie believes he's getting on the same page with Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.
"Once you get a catch, you can definitely get in rhythm. But other than that you can definitely tell we're starting to understand each other," Hill said. "Basically I need to do my job getting off the ball and get to my spot. We're definitely getting in some type of relationship."
Entering the final five games of the year, Hill has just 16 catches for 212 yards and three touchdowns, and has caught less than 50 percent of his targets. He knows he has a chance to turn around his season with strong play over the final weeks.
"These last five games can turn your season out to be pretty good," Hill said. "You just got to take care of it every day, going hard, and make sure you get better each day."
1hField Yates and Rich Cimini