Rams Notes: Hill continues to impress
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Brash as it might have sounded at the time, rookie cornerback Tye Hill's declaration in training camp last year that he was giving himself just two seasons to make the Pro Bowl looks considerably less dubious now.
Hill, the Rams' first-round draft choice in 2006, caught coach Scott Linehan's eye early in this year's camp and continues to turn in strong performances on the practice fields at Rams Park.
"What Tye is starting to do is be more consistent," Linehan said. "That gives him an edge that he probably didn't know he had as a rookie. You can see a much more confident player. ... I think he's ready to take his game to a new level."
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Hill was the nickel back early last year, coming in as an extra defensive back on passing downs. Injuries eventually took a toll, and he wound up starting 10 games, including the last seven at left corner.
He finished with three interceptions, tying for the team high, and collected 42 tackles, 10th on the squad.
The pressure will be on Hill early, as incumbent right corner Fakhir Brown sits out the first four games for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. Carolina will visit Edward Jones Dome for the opener Sept. 10, which means Hill will go against Steve Smith, one of the league's top wideouts. "It's only going to make me better," Hill said with a sly smile.
Brown's absence means that none of the other cornerbacks on the roster has started as many games for the Rams as Hill. "That sounds kind of crazy, being in my second year," said Hill, 25. "But do I have a lot of game experience, and I know how it feels when the bullets start flying."
The experience that he gained in 2006 was valuable, Hill stressed. "Last year at this time, I was still learning and trying to get my technique right," he said. "This year, it's more getting back in the groove of things. I'm way more comfortable and way more confident."
Still, he isn't ready to label himself as any more than a young pro with room for improvement.
"I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I'm the king, that I'm the master of the universe and I can shut down anybody out there," he said. "I'm still working to be that guy that St. Louis drafted me to be. It's a day-by-day process, and I'm continuing to get better."
Not surprisingly, the bumps and bruises are starting to accumulate as the first week of training camp nears completion. Three more have been added to the injury list.
Linebacker Jon Alston "got his bell rung" at Tuesday's night's practice, Linehan said, and sat out Wednesday. Also, defensive tackle Tim Sandidge went down with a sprained knee and wide receiver Lamart Barrett suffered a shoulder injury Wednesday.
They joined linebackers Chris Draft (throat) and Tim McGarigle (hamstring), and tight end Joe Klopfenstein (hamstring) on the sideline.
Linehan said that if Draft passes a treadmill test today, he should practice Friday. Klopfenstein is expected back early next week and McGarigle by the middle of the week.
HELP ON THE WAY
The injuries have left the team light at linebacker; only six practiced Wednesday. Another is expected to join the group today, however.
If Larry Edwards, an undrafted rookie, passes a physical exam he'll suit up this morning. The 6-2, 241-pound Edwards, a four-year starter at North Carolina, signed with Buffalo in the spring and was released last week.
Defensive end James Hall, a free-agent signee in the offseason, has proved this much to Linehan: "That he's a legit guy on the other side of our other legit guy (Leonard Little). It's early in camp, but I'm excited as anybody to have James Hall on our football team."
Add safety Jeffrey Dukes (Alabama) to the list of undrafted rookies who are making a run at a roster spot. ... Linehan is putting his offense through extended periods of red-zone drills. ... The team will practice twice today. The 9:20 a.m. session is open to the public.
Re: Rams Notes: Hill continues to impress
Again, glad to here Dukes is looking good. Thank you for posting all these articles!
Re: Rams Notes: Hill continues to impress
Is it just me or are the coaches reporting that most of the players that will be significant to our success are doing good?