Saturday, September 28, 2013
Hill has Rex lost for words
By Matt Ehalt
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- To avoid jinxing second-year receiver Stephen Hill, Jets head coach Rex Ryan refrains from saying anything positive to the media about the youngster.
That stance leaves just negative comments -- but the Jets coach won't go down that route either. Hill just isn't giving him much to work with.
"Not a whole lot [to criticize him for]," Ryan said with a laugh.
Hill has shown vast improvement from his rookie campaign, and could top his receiving yards from last season when the Jets visit the Titans on Sunday. Hill tallied 252 receiving yards as a rookie, and already has 233 this season, including 108 against Buffalo.
"[Just] helping the team out," Hill said. "We're making sure we get first downs and move the chains. Any time I can help to do that it's a plus."
In his debut game last season, he torched the Bills for 89 yards and two touchdowns on five catches -- but he couldn't duplicate that success the rest of the way. He didn't top 55 yards in a game the remainder of the year, and scored just one more touchdown. He caught just 21 passes.
This season, Hill, the 43rd pick in the 2012 draft, is showing signs of growth. He caught six passes for 39 yards in the opener and followed that up with four catches for 86 yards against the Patriots.
Sunday, the Bills once again brought out the best in Hill as he caught three balls for 108 yards and his first score of the year. He notched a 51-yard touchdown in the second quarter when he beat single coverage down the right sideline. His touchdown put the Jets ahead 14-6, en route to a 27-20 win.
"I'm starting to understand more," Hill said. "Other than that, I'm just making sure I pay as much attention as I can. The game is coming slow to me, and I'm starting to understand the movement of the game and how it's going."
Hill seems to be developing a nice rapport with rookie quarterback Geno Smith. Hill has been targeted a team-high 23 times and has hauled in a team-best 13 catches for a team-leading 233 yards. Smith has targeted Hill at least six times in each game. Last season, Hill was targeted six times or more in just four games.
The receiver said he loves how Smith's playing, and is trying to make sure he holds up his end of the bargain.
"Making sure I go out there and I run my route and I get to the spot I need to be in to catch the ball," Hill said. "That's my job and that's what I have to do."