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Jets may not stomach another year of Hill

8/26/2014

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Greg Salas and Saalim Hakim received glowing endorsements Tuesday from Rex Ryan. Stephen Hill, not so much.

The New York Jets coach hinted that Hill's roster spot is in jeopardy, saying special-teams performance will play a key role in determining the final jobs at wide receiver. Hill doesn't play special teams.

"It's a disadvantage for anybody because special teams is something we said is going to be a point of emphasis," Ryan said. "You look at a Saalim Hakim, the way he's played on special teams. That's going to give him a leg up, without question. So I think that's a big factor in the decision making."

Ryan was hit with a barrage of questions about Hill because there's rampant speculation the former second-round pick could be traded or released before Saturday's final roster cutdown. The Jets tried to trade the disappointing wide receiver earlier in training camp, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Tuesday morning.

"A lot of times, with anything, you'll listen to whatever the things that are thrown out there," Ryan said. "This is the first I've heard of it, though."

But Ryan didn't go out of his way to defend Hill, who returned to practice despite a stomach bug. Not that we're keeping official records on this, but Hill vomited three times over the last two days, according to Ryan. Hill has only two receptions in the preseason, which means he's been more prolific throwing up than being thrown to.

"I think he's had some strong moments, but there are others that we wish he'd maybe hung onto to a ball or so," Ryan said. "But I think he's had a pretty good training camp. I wouldn't say it's been outstanding, but I think it's a pretty good one."

"Pretty good" is a rave review if it comes from Bill Belichick. From the ever-optimistic Ryan, it qualifies as lukewarm.

Reading between the lines, it appears that Salas, Hakim (also the top kickoff returner) and rookie Jalen Saunders (the punt returner) are the fourth, fifth and sixth receivers. The top three are Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson, none of whom will play in the preseason finale Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Salas has stood out from Day 1, impressing the coaches with his ability to play in the slot and on the outside. As Ryan said, "He's not just a one-trick pony." He also can play special teams, enhancing his value.

"He's probably in a pretty good situation right now," Ryan said.

The Jets could keep Hill if they decide to go with seven receivers, but they'd be short at another position.

It's a compelling decision: Do they give him one last shot, hoping he can fulfill his potential? Do they trade Hill, a former second-round pick, even it means getting little in return?

"We're still evaluating that receiver group," Ryan said. "We'll see how it shakes out."