FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Rex Ryan was noncommittal about the future of Stephen Hill on Wednesday after the wide receiver didn’t practice again with a knee injury.
“I don’t know. We’ll see. Obviously we’d like to get him out here,” said Ryan, who was unsure about whether Hill will return at all this season. “If he can play and be effective obviously that would be the best thing for us. We’ll see how it progresses.”
The second year wide out sat out against the Raiders on Sunday and Ryan noted that he still has swelling around the knee and is unable to burst out of breaks.
But even before Hill’s knee began acting up the former second round pick was underperforming and underwhelming. He was targeted zero times against the Tennessee Titans, New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Bills, and Baltimore Ravens and has only 342 yards and one touchdown on 24 receptions.
“It doesn’t look good,” said Ryan regarding Hill’s rate of development. “In particular the knee might have a major contributing factor with that. Obviously, when you look at the numbers it looks like he’s not progressing.”
Hill appeared to land in Ryan’s doghouse before the Ravens’ game, when Ryan expressed disappointment in the talented receiver’s lack of production.
If Hill is indeed done for the good, it would mark a lost season for the Georgia Tech product who has yet to shed his “unpolished” label.
Ryan was openly skeptical when former general manager Mike Tannenbaum took the 6-foot-4 receiver in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft despite Hill’s undeniable measureables, which included a 4.36 40-yard dash time.
That decision now looms as a potential major draft blunder as the Jets passed on receivers Alshon Jeffery, Rueben Randle, Mohamed Sanu, T.Y. Hilton, Chris Givens, and Marvin Jones, who all went after Hill.
But there’s nothing Ryan can say or do about it now, diffusing a difficult situation with his patented humor on Wednesday.
“No, it’s early in the process. Nobody is going to give a grade during the season – a draft grade,” Ryan joked, alluding to the “A-plus” grade he handed out to the 2013 class last week.
“But really, by year three, that’s the big one. You’ll know, ‘Hey, this guy really hit it or this guy maybe hasn’t been as good.’ Certainly, by the numbers I understand that you expect a certain amount of production but there are some contributing factors here.”
Speaking off production: Jeffery, who went to the Chicago Bears two picks after the Jets selected Hill at 43rd overall, has turned in a breakout season, compiling 75 receptions, 1,193 yards, and six touchdowns along with a signature 249 yard, two touchdown performance against the Minnesota Vikings two weeks ago.
In all fairness, Hill doesn’t have Jay Cutler or Josh McCown throwing him passes and he isn’t lining up with Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte or Martellus Bennett. And Geno Smith is ready to take the blame.
“I’ve got to put the ball in better spots for him and allow him to make those plays,” said Smith. “I think Stephen has done a great job at just working his butt off. He’s a tough, tough hard worker. He does his job every single day to the best of his ability. If I put the ball in some better spots for him, he usually makes the plays for me. It all comes down to me just doing that for him.”