According to conventional wisdom, this is Stephen Hill’s last summer with the Jets.
Hill was a second-round pick three years ago, heralded by the team’s fanbase as a diamond in the rough. He came out of the triple-option offense at Georgia Tech where he didn’t see the ball much, but he had raw tools to develop. After two years, including a rookie season marred by bad drops and some even worse route running, fans were through with him.
The addition of pricey free agent Eric Decker this offseason — along with Jacoby Ford and three draft picks at receiver — the writing appears to be on the wall for Hill.
“It’s not frustrating,” Hill told Metro. “I didn’t know I’ve been getting that [criticism]. I don’t. [I] didn’t know that. The thing is about it, I don’t understand it. The way it’s written, it’s written how it’s written but I really don’t bother with it. I just go out there and do what I got to do.”
Hill was praised as taking the next step in training camp a year ago. The coaching staff talked about his improvements, how he built on the year before and that the injuries that plagued him his rookie season were a thing of the past. He had more catches in 2013, but went through a three-week drought with no receptions, and his season ended early with a knee injury.
Hill says he’s better heading into this season. He’s worked on refining his game, including his shaky route running. There’s been no indications from the staff, he says, that he’s out of favor.
“I learned from the mistakes I made last year,” Hill said. “Clean up those. I don’t want to repeat those. … I’ve spent the past year clearing those things up.
“[I am] making sure my routes are polished, cleaned up. [I am] learning to read certain things — looking at [defensive backs] and seeing what they see, understanding what they’re reading. [The coaches] are saying as long as you come out there and keep up the good work, then they’re happy. Continue to take it day-by-day. You still have things to work on. I’m guessing, I’m not sure, but I’m guessing they’re pleased. I haven’t heard anything negative. At least not yet.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.