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Stephen Hill Takes a Licking, Keeps on Ticking

Head coach Rex Ryan spoke to the media following Monday afternoon's practice and broke down some video from the second preseason game. Two of the plays he presented were of WR Stephen Hill successfully blocking the defensive back guarding him.

"Even though the guy's got him by the facemask, he stays with the block," Rex said. "He's running his feet and stays in contact here.

"These are things that are selfless," Ryan said after showing another great block by Hill. "They don't show up on the stat sheet, but it's a point of emphasis for us."

Coming from a Georgia Tech offense known for running the triple option, the second-year wide receiver believes he has "an upper hand" when it comes to blocking on the perimeter.

"A lot of guys nowadays don't want to play physical at the corner position," Hill said. "They want to play 'brother-in-law' defense."

Brother-in-law defense?

Hill demonstrated what he meant by patting me on the back softly and saying "Hey," as in "Hey, how's it going?"

"I don't have any type of animosity against anybody," he said. "It's just going out there to do my job, so they'd better come out there ready to play."

CB Antonio Cromartie must have had a case of the Mondays as he missed the memo. During today's practice, Cro hit Hill hard after the receiver made a catch on a goal line play.

Stephen stayed true to his word, not holding any animosity toward the Pro Bowl corner.

"It's a collision sport, and that's what's supposed to happen," Hill said. "I even talked to Cro about it and he was like he didn't mean to do it, and I said, 'This is football, just keep playing. Stuff like this is going to happen.' "

In fact, his good feelings toward the man who hit him hard actually increased.

"I feel like it's definitely more respect to Cro for even hitting me, because I'm just as big as him," adding that the defense needs him to lay the lumber every Sunday.

Some of Hill's teammates and coaches were not pleased with the collision, however.

"As a quarterback, as a teammate, you don't want to see that happen," Geno Smith said. "Especially to one of our guys we expect to contribute. Stephen's tough, he got right up."

Ryan described today's competitive practice as maybe "a little too spirited."

"There's 'thud' and then there's over-the-top thud," he said, "and I was disappointed because we have to protect each other. Stephen was running full speed and all that. Cro actually came off his coverage and made the hit, and again I don't think he intended to certainly hurt Stephen, but still we have got to be smarter."

Rex added that he loves to see Cromartie's aggressiveness on the football field, "but at the same time, it's more important to take care of your teammates above all else."

While Stephen Hill understands and appreciates the concern expressed by others on the team, he viewed the high-impact tackle as a positive thing.

"I definitely understand where everyone else is coming from because it's almost season time and things like that, you're supposed to back off a little bit," he said, "but other than that, I really appreciate it because it definitely helps me out, preparing me for if I get a hit like that in the game."

Any concern that Hill might have injured himself on the play was wiped away on the final play of practice.

QB Matt Simms threw a 40-yard pass just in front of the right corner of the end zone. Covered tightly by CB Mike Edwards, Hill attacked the ball at the highest point, leaping up and shielding the cornerback from making any sort of play before coming down with the catch.

Ryan compared the catch to something Randy Moss might make:

"Guy's got coverage and he snags the ball over somebody, so I think Stephen's fine."

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