Florham Park, NJ – It’s been a rough season. The Jets now have 12 players on the injured reserve list with the addition of wide receiver Stephen Hill today. Hill has been plagued with injuries throughout the season. Recently, the swelling in his knees have worsened and caused his season to end three weeks short.
Coach Rex Ryan addressed the issue in today’s press conference.
“This young man’s been battling the whole year,” he said. “He’s had some swelling in his knees. He’d come back, he’d rehab, get back. But it just seemed like almost any time that he would do a football-related activity, whether it was practice or, more specifically, games, his knees would swell.”
Stephen Hill had a breakout opening day performance against the Buffalo Bills last season. Hill made it look like the decision to move up in the 2012 draft for him was worth the while racking up 80 yards in that game. The 43rd overall pick shined again this season against the Bills in week 3 with a career high of 108 receiving yards. Something about playing the Bills gets Hill pumped up, just to start rolling downhill.
His rookie season consisted of three touchdowns and 21 catches for 252 yards. His sophomore season has also been as glum, having 24 receptions for 342 yards and one touchdown catch.
Rex had high hopes for the 22-year-old out of Georgia Tech when watching him in this summer’s training camp.
“He was absolutely having a terrific training camp,” Ryan said. “Then we went into the season and a few games we’re into it, it just seemed like he wasn’t the same guy with the knees. They were just swelling.”
In the last four games he’s played (he sat out against the Raiders this past Sunday) his reception count comes to one. He hasn’t caught the football since the Saints game on November 3.
Hill will have his last chance to prove he can be a starting wide receiver when he returns to the field next season.
“Obviously, there are frustrations from his point from everybody’s point [of view], because we’re waiting for him to take the next step that you would take and it just hasn’t happened,” Rex said. “Hopefully with this, we’ll get him back and we’ll get him healthy and be ready to roll next season.”
Some fans and critics have questioned Hill’s dedication and work ethic throughout his struggles, but Rex certainly doesn’t seem to believe there’s a problem in that department.
“The kid worked his tail off,” Rex said. “He was committed. He would be committed in the training room. He’d do everything that was asked of him. It’s just one of those things. He just wasn’t able to really get to where he could really be productive out there, so we ended up making that decision [to IR him] and that’s what it is.”
WR Saalim Hakin, known for his speed, will be elevated from the practice squad to replace Hill on the active roster.