As OTAs begin, there is some uncertainty at the wide receiver position for the Jets. Santonio Holmes continues to work his way back from a Lisfranc injury and many people wonder what the Green & White will get out of Stephen Hill in Year 2.
Hill has all the physical traits you would want in a prototypical NFL wideout. The 6'4", 215-pound Hill possesses 4.3 speed and new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is an aggressive play-caller who will dial up plays down the field.
"Me and Marty had a lot of conversations, and he's definitely looking forward to me stepping up," Hill said.
Hill made it look easy in his first professional game, becoming the first Jets rookie receiver to record two touchdowns in his NFL Debut and his 89 yards in a trouncing over the Bills also set a rookie record. But Hill, a raw product who was making a transition from a triple option attack at Georgia Tech, only collected 16 more receptions throughout his rookie season. Injuries hampered Hill's 2012 campaign as he appeared in 11 contests and made eight starts.
"After I saw the things I was doing out there on the field, I have a lot to clean up," he said. "A whole lot to clean up, so I'm getting better at that. I'm not going to grade myself now of stepping to the next level, but I'm definitely going to look a lot better — a whole lot better from last year."
Hill, who stayed in the area this offseason after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage in his right knee, believes there are a lot of areas where he can improve.
"The basics. Route running — making sure I don't show my route a certain way because these corners are very smart nowadays," he said. "Any little thing, they'll just pick it up just that fast. Cro helped me out with that and actually when (Darrelle) Revis was here — they helped me out with that. Telling me as the year went on how I needed to clean up certain things, and also Santonio Holmes he does the same thing especially in the meeting room. What I need to write down, how I need to see certain things and it's definitely paid off."
Just like all his offensive teammates, Hill is learning a new offensive language. Mornhinweg called his West Coast terminology "substantial" and has been happy how his players have embraced the challenge.
"You have to know one word and you have to know what everybody's doing," Hill said. "You have to stay in your playbook — you have to read everything that's in that playbook. If not, you're going to be behind."
While Hill will catch passes from the Jets' four quarterbacks out here at OTAs, he actually already gained experience with rookie Geno Smith at the Offense-Defense (OD) High School All-American Bowl in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
"It was pretty cool. We were actually connecting out there," Hill said. "He said, 'It's pretty crazy that we got on the same NFL team.' We're definitely trying to make sure that we get this thing rolling, so we can at least be something in the future."
Hill, with one pro season under his belt, has been very impressed with Smith's approach.
"He takes his game seriously," said the Georgia Tech alum. "He really does... He's being a pro, and I love the way he's taking it."
A second-round pick of the Jets in the 2012 draft, Hill just turned 22 in April. The Jets stuck to their board and did not reach for a receiver in the draft. They could elect to add a veteran free agent before training camp, but Hill will be counted on to make a big-time impact in Year 2.
"He's a big part of this offense. We need him to step up and having him where he is right now is going to speak volumes," said CB Antonio Cromartie. "I'm definitely waiting to see how he's going to be when we go to training camp because he's coming out to with me to California and we're going to be working out together."
"I'm definitely looking forward to showing my skills especially to the coaches and the GM," added Hill. "I love the way the GM's talking. He really wants competition and that's what we're definitely going to bring out there."