Rex Ryan defends fledgling receiver Stephen Hill

Stephen Hill
Stephen Hill had two touchdowns and 89 yards in his first career game, but it has been mostly downhill since.
Credit: Getty Images

Not even two years into his NFL experience, he might be already over the hill.

He isn’t a bust, not yet, but serious question marks have begun to emerge about Jets wide receiver Stephen Hill, a second-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. He came in as a raw product out of an option offense at Georgia Tech. While he clearly needs work, the prevailing thought about him is that he is already nearing bust territory.

Not so fast, according to head coach Rex Ryan, who was asked Wednesday if Hill was a regrettable draft choice.

“No, I think so many times it’s early in the process. Nobody’s going to give a grade when it’s during the season, would they? But really, I think it’s really by year three I think that’s the big one,” Ryan said. “You’ll know if this guy’s really hit it, this guy maybe hasn’t been as good. Certainly, by the numbers, I understand that you expect a certain amount of production. But there are some contributing factors here. I know one thing, he had a great training camp and I think we were all excited about him. I know I was excited about seeing him make those steps. Sometimes you’re limited through different things.”

Several weeks ago, Hill’s role in the offense was scaled back and perhaps rightly so. He’s recorded one reception for two yards since Oct. 27. But he hasn’t regressed from a season ago.

He has 23 catches for 324 yards through 12 games this season. He had 21 catches for 251 yards as a rookie.

He did not practice on Wednesday due to a knee injury suffered late last week, an injury that caused him to miss the Jets’ win over the Raiders.

Ryan wasn’t certain if Hill would be out for the remainder of the year, but said he’d like to get his young wide receiver back on the field to utilize his long frame and 4.2-second 40-yard speed.

“I don’t know. We’ll see. Obviously, we’d like to get him out here if he can play and can be effective,” Ryan said. “Obviously, that would be the best thing for us, best scenario for us. We’ll see how it progresses.”

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.


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