Stephen Hill happy to be at rookie mini-camp with contract already done
Jets' Stephen Hill happy to be at rookie mini-camp with contract already done
Published: Friday, May 04, 2012
By Jenny Vrentas/The Star-Ledger
Receiver Stephen Hill was one of the earliest rookies in the NFL to agree to terms on his first contract -- Chicago's Alshon Jeffery is the only other known rookie whose deal is done -- and that's exactly how the second-round pick wanted it.
"It's definitely getting it off your mind," Hill said. "Not being worried how much money you are going to make, because it's not really about that. It is about going out there and playing football, so thatís why I wanted to get it over with and get on the football field and get to work."
The former Georgia Tech receiver stood out in his first practice with the Jets because of his imposing 6-foot-4 frame and effort in every drill. Coach Rex Ryan noticed Hill's speed.
"Let's face it, I'm not going to get excited about drafting a wideout, thatís not my deal," Ryan said with a laugh. "I want to see it to believe it, but everybody talked about it. You watch him on the field, and you're like, 'Wow, thatís a big fast guy,' there's no question about it. He just jumps out."
Hill spent a lot of time working one-on-one with new receivers coach Sanjay Lal. Hill said Lal gave him "a bunch of little messages."
"Basically taking care of the little things and making the big things happen," Hill said. "But other than that, I like the way he coached. He makes sure he gets on me as much as he can to make sure Iím right on everything."
Hill also said Lal has been drilling the playbook into him. His approach to learning the offense is studying one install at a time.
During the days between the draft and the start of rookie mini-camp, Hill went home to Georgia, but he was hard at work. He enlisted one of his best friends, current Georgia Tech receiver Jeremy Moore to go out to the field with him. Moore would call out a route, and Hill would run it.
Hill said he has not been overwhelmed so far.
"Not at all," he said. "This is your job, you have to get this done. You have no classes, all you have is football."
Hill stood out during receiver drills, catching everything that came his way, and even worked as a flier on punt drills. He made an impressive catch during seven-on-seven drills of a pass that had been deflected two times. His one miss came in the team period, when he had his defender beat but couldn't reel in a deep pass from former Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne.
"It just hit my fingertips," Hill said. "I just should have dove for it instead of just keep running."
Hill's trying to make the most of every opportunity and earn a spot on the team, even though coach Rex Ryan said last week that he's would start this season.
"It is rare for rookies to come into this league and really have an impact as a receiver. It really takes years," Ryan said. "Jerry Rice was a back-up his first year. I'm not going to say he's going to do it right away, but ... I know heís got that desire and all that. I know Sanjay is an outstanding teacher, the fact you have Santonio Holmes ... It will be interesting to see how quickly he can progress."