Cortland, NY – Stephen Hill raced down the sideline brushing past the corner in front of him. Within seconds Mark Sanchez released a pass that spiraled through the air before landing on the chest of the second-year receiver. But in an all too familiar sight the ball makes a thud as it hits the ground.

Stephen Hill looks to put last season behind him

There was a lot of hype surrounding the second-round pick out of Georgia Tech last year. The injury to Santonio Holmes added to the expectations of the rookie receiver, but he finished the year with only 252 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. Those numbers were comparable to Holmes’ production in just four games last season.

Drops were one of the main issues. Hill was charged with five last season even though he only registered 21 catches. A critical drop on third down against the Patriots still burns in many fan’s minds.

But Hill is working to make sure that issue remains in the past.

On the very next play during drills, Hill ran the same route and Sanchez threw it up once again. This time the former Yellow Jacket came down with the pass.

“I told him to throw it again because I don’t drop balls,” said Hill when asked why Sanchez felt comfortable going back to him.

But drops are just one facet of his game that he is looking to improve.

“[I’m working on] everything that I can work on, and anything that I need help on,” explained Hill. “I ask coach as much as I can to see what he saw on film the previous day. I just make sure I work on that the next day. Make sure I perfect my craft.”

What’s changed the most for Hill?

“I feel like I’m better mentally. I always had the physical tools; I just needed to make sure I understand what is going on on the field. That’s definitely been a plus for me this year.”

Going up against Rex Ryan’s defense each day certainly helps. So does lining up against Pro Bowler Antonio Cromartie.

“Our number one thing coming here to Cortland and when we were in OTAs is build competition,” said Hill. “And when you’re competing as hard as [Cromartie] is, it’s making you get better. It’s making your craft get even better. So I’m definitely looking forward to taking more reps against him.”

The veteran corner has made strides to be more of a leader, and his advice hasn’t just been to the defense.

“He talks to me, probably, after every rep we go against each other,” said Hill. “I ask him something, and he’ll tell me. Or if he sees something he’ll just tell me to make sure I don’t do that again.”

Hill has had a strong camp so far, and followed that up with a pretty solid performance Friday against the Lions. He only finished with two receptions for 16 yards, but the coaches were pleased with his performance, and more importantly, he didn’t have a drop.

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