Jets’ Stephen Hill confident 2013 will be breakout season

Stephen Hill had two touchdowns and 89 yards in his first career game, but it was downhill after that. Credit: Getty Images
Stephen Hill had two touchdowns and 89 yards in his first career game, but it was downhill after that.
Credit: Getty Images

After an underwhelming rookie season, wide receiver Stephen Hill returns to the Jets this training camp with a newfound confidence. But it remains to be seen if it will show on the field.

Last year, Hill came to the Jets as a second-round pick with tremendous measurables and plenty of upside. He was tall and powerfully built with a long stride and big hands. But he was raw, and having played in an option offense at Georgia Tech, his opportunities to catch the ball were few and far between. Understandably, his route running was subpar and Hill endured a mediocre rookie season beset by injuries.

Hill played 11 games as he battled a chronic hamstring injury and had just 21 catches. He was targeted 47 times.

“I’m definitely better than last year but I definitely have a lot more to clean up and a lot more experience to go through,” Hill said. “Other than that, I’m taking it day by day. [I am] making sure that everything I’m working on, I don’t worry about the next play, I just worry about that one play.”

His strength last year was always his downfield blocking, not surprising since he did plenty of that in college. But the rest of his game needed desperately to be refined. Then there were all the dropped passes.

The Jets need a target wide receiver for the future and while they recently signed Braylon Edwards, it is Hill who should be the player to catch the deep ball or be a strong target on third down. He’s gone so far as to say that even when Santonio Holmes returns from his Lisfranc injury, he wants to be the team’s No. 1 wide receiver.

For a player with 21 career receptions, that is bold talk. For the first time in his young career, however, he seems to be backing it up.

On Saturday in the Green and White scrimmage, Hill muscled off a challenge from cornerback Ellis Lankster for a long touchdown catch from Mark Sanchez. It was the kind of play Hill might not have made last year.

“That’s just competition. Basically, Ellis got in my way and so we both were fighting for the ball,” Hill said. “If I pushed off, there wasn’t a flag on the play, so it was a touchdown. So I was just happy for that.”

Last year, Hill was often shown up by much shorter cornerbacks and safeties who frequently made plays over a wide receiver who towered over nearly every defensive player on the field. One noticeable change during training camp is that he is getting up much better and attacking the ball.

“I noticed even in OTAs [organized team activities] I was letting balls come down to me,” Hill said. “Coach always said go up and get the ball. You’re big — 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5 — go up and attack it like you’re playing basketball.”

“It’s just making sure I pinpoint the ball at the right time and making sure that I make the correct jump. Not jump too early, not jump too late.”

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for updates from training camp.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.