We spoke with recently signed RB/FB Lex Hilliard after practice Thursday. The Kalispell, Mont., native talked about his first week with the Jets, reconnecting with his old head coach, Tony Sparano, and Monday's game against Houston.
You've been here a few days now with the Jets. How's everything been going so far?
It's going good. I just walked in the building and almost went the wrong way to the locker room. But yeah, it's going good, other than that.
At the beginning of September you were with the New England Patriots for two weeks. After two weeks away from the game, you signed with the Jets. What has the past month been like for you?
It's kind of been up and down in a way. You know, you're in New England, which I guess is north of here, one week, and then I went back to Minnesota to spend some time with my family for a week. Then I went back to Montana for a week, and then I got a phone call when me and a buddy were doing a remodel on an office, and then I got the call to come here.
You grew up in Montana. I know you've only been here in New Jersey about a week, but what are some similarities and differences you notice in the cultures?
Some similarities, probably when it comes the months of December and January, I imagine those kind of months where it's cold. Being down in Miami the last four years, we played up here in the cold. So I'm kind of familiar with the atmosphere and those kind of months or whatever. I guess that's kind of similar.
Is it kind of crazy to think that you were with New England and now are with the Jets, the Patriots' biggest rival?
You know what, I wasn't really there long enough to even get the feel for that kind of rivalry or whatever. But I kind of had that rivalry being down with the Dolphins when I played the Jets and it was a big week. Kind of brings back some college-like, rivalry-type deals. It's fun to be around, for sure.
What's it like to reconnect with your old head coach, Tony Sparano, and with former Dolphins teammate Clyde Gates?
It's great to be around those guys. You know, there are quality guys throughout the league that you build relationships with and you're around. People don't really realize how much football players are around each other. It becomes like a brotherhood. It's like when you go to a different team and you see guys that you played with before, it's almost like seeing a relative again. It's pretty cool.
*Did you and Coach Sparano, or you and Clyde stay in contact when you left Miami? *
It's kind of funny. When you split, it's kind of hard to stay in touch with people. So many guys go so many different ways.
Have you noticed any differences in Coach Sparano the first few days being here? Or does he seem to be the same coach?
He's the same and that's great because you know exactly where you stand and you couldn't ask for anything better. There's no secrets with him. I like that and I appreciate it.
Do you feel like having him here as the offensive coordinator has made your transition to the offense and to this team a little bit easier?
I think it has been. I've learned that you've got to work to stay in this league. You've got to continue to work and continue to show that you can still do it. I'm pretty sure they'd vouch for that.
What do you feel are some strengths that you can bring to this team?
Just toughness. I'm a guy that doesn't really mind any contact or whatever job is asked of me. Even if it's something I've never done before, I'm willing to do it. Hopefully I can develop that relationship with the coaches, that they know I'm a guy they can depend on and a guy that will go in there and battle when other guys don't want to do it.
Is this organization pretty similar to the other three you've been with during your NFL career or are there noticeable differences?
No it's very similar to organizations I've been around. I mean, everyone does it a little bit differently obviously but I don't see any problems whatsoever. I'm excited to be a part of it.
I know you enjoy football so much, but what are some hobbies you have away from the field?
I like to spend time with my wife and kids.
Has that been tough moving here? Are they here with you now?
No they're back in Minneapolis. But they're going to come down this weekend, and I told them they'll see what a real stadium is like [laughing]. You know, It's like the Coliseum of football.
Do you have any nicknames?
No. My name has always been short enough where I've always not really needed one.
What do you think it's going to take most for this team to pull off a big victory over the Texans on Monday night?
Just consistency. Doing what we know how to do and staying consistent with that. Whether it's special teams, offense or defense, consistency. It helps everything, I think.