This competition thing that the Jets have going on is getting crazy. Take Stephen Hill. The second-year wideout is competing not only with the other WRs but also across the line of scrimmage with the cornerbacks.
Take some 7-on-7 work at this morning's first Jets training camp practice at SUNY Cortland. Hill takes off down the left sideline against Antonio Cromartie. Hill gets a step on Cro, but Cro gets the step back, leans in on Hill and bats the Geno Smith pass away. Hill leaps in the air with electric indignation.
Or at least that's what it seemed like.
"I felt like I beat Cro, and then it felt like he grabbed my jersey," Hill explained. "But no, I wasn't really upset, not at all. That's football, we do that all the time.
"Cro, he's a great competitor, man. I work as hard as I can to beat him because he made it to the Pro Bowl last year. That means you're one of the best. I just want to compete with him as much as I can to be good, great or even greater."
A few plays later, Hill showed a little bit of goodness. He went down the right sideline against first-year CB Eric Crocker, bent back over his right shoulder and reeled in that Smith sideline throw for a tumbling big gain.
"Exactly, that's the trademark I definitely want to bring, especially putting fear in corners going down the field," he said. "That's a big thing. You've got to have one of those on your team."
Hill is aware that he needs to continue his growth after his hot-cold-then-injured rookie season. He needs to have reliable hands down the field to go with his 6'4" height and that will help him use his 4.35 speed to separate. "Cro is pretty fast. He's strong," Hill allowed. "But I feel like I'm faster. And tell him I said that." OK, Cromartie's just been told.
Part of that learning continued after today's practice, when Hill was pretty much the last player to come off the field and talk with a few reporters. He was spending the extra time with Santonio Holmes, the Jets' No. 1 WR who'll be sidelined a while longer with his foot rehab.
"Definitely, he's doing a little coaching with me afterward," Stephen said. "He's making sure I'm aware of the mistakes that I've done and not making those mistakes again. Besides that, he wants to be out there so bad and you can tell that."
Might this Jets WR corps be better than some have advertised? If Holmes returns at or near his top form and joins Jeremy Kerley, Clyde Gates — who had a sensational leaping, fingertip "touchdown" grab from Mark Sanchez in 7-on-7's — and a new and improved Hill, might that help get the offense off of last year's schneid?
"People have their down time," Hill said in his colorful way, referring to last year's onfield and injury inconsistencies. "But we're definitely not on that anymore. We're on the rise. We're just looking forward to competing out there."
So far, on day one, so good.