The temps may be in the mid-70s in central New York so far this week, but
Of course, the summers haven't been the problem for the third-year wideout, with knee injuries cutting into his production and playing time his first two seasons. But he's feeling and looking very frisky again this training camp.
"It's amazing, man, just having another chance to play. Everything's just coming together," Hill told me after this morning's second practice at SUNY Cortland. "Basically that's because it's better to have your offensive coordinator come back for another year. I'm understanding the offense more. I can play fast because once I know it, I can definitely play fast."
And starting his second summer in Marty Mornhinweg's offense, Hill put up some nice plays today. He had a beautiful two-hand, over-the-shoulder grab after some hand-fighting with a DB for a long gainer in skeleton drills.
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Then Hill came up with a big play following a wrinkle that head coach Rex Ryan is doing at the end of this year's camp practices. Ryan calls the team together and addresses them after the final play of team drills, then sends them back out for several more series of two-minute drills before the actual end of practice.
On the first series, from the defense's 40 with 18 seconds left and the offense trailing, 17-15,
"That's a big add-on to our practices," Hill said. "We want to make sure we complete the catch and get into good field position for that last kick. That's what we did last year at Atlanta."
Indeed, it was a Smith-to-Hill 12-yarder that got the game-winning field goal drive off and flying against the Falcons last Oct. 7. Hill's intent is to keep those big plays coming with a breakout third season.
Here are five more noteworthy players at today's practice:
Hitting the Ground Running
"Like today, I hadn't been able to look at my playbook for a couple of weeks," he said. "But since I've been in the system, I was able to just come out here and, every play he called, I knew exactly what to do."
Old Reliable in the Middle
Harris has seven pro INTs, all in the past five years. Among his victims were Tom Brady in the 2010 playoffs and
Among the Jets showing some nice punt-return bursts were
We wouldn't think Decker, being in line for major plays in the offense, would be dropping back under punts, but the former Bronco coincidentally also has nine pro punt returns over the last three years for an eye-popping 17.4 average, which included a touchdown return in the 2011 opener against Ford's Raiders.
Babin's First Day
Jason Babin was noteworthy not for his play but just for the fact that he is now signed, sealed and delivered and actually wearing a Jets uniform (No. 58 for those scoring at home). "You know, there's a big learning curve," the 11th-year pass rusher said afterwards. "It wasn't as fast as I wanted it to be, but that's to be expected."
More uniform dominoes fell as Babin wound up with the number he has worn in his pro career only for the past 21 games in 2012-13 with the Jaguars. LB