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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Tye Hill ready for another chance with Rams

    BY BILL COATS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    08/05/2009

    As the ball began its descent on a trajectory that would take it to the deep left corner of the end zone, cornerback Tye Hill sealed off tight end Daniel Fells and moved in front of him. A second later, with Fells effectively eliminated from the play, the ball was nestled in Hill's hands.

    It was a perfectly executed interception by Hill during red-zone drills Tuesday morning at Rams training camp, and it prompted whoops of delight from his fellow defenders.

    "He's been working as hard as anybody here," defensive end Chris Long said. "He really has approached this camp seriously." That might not have been the case before for Hill, who acknowledged before his rookie season that, "I'm just not a camp guy."

    But now Hill, a fourth-year pro, is trying to re-establish himself after two injury-wracked seasons.

    And he realizes that it's going to take a determined effort to convince new coach Steve Spagnuolo that he deserves a spot with the first-team secondary.

    "He's being looked at and evaluated like any other guy," Spagnuolo said. "He's got some talent, he knows that. He just wants to ... hold on to a job. That's basically what he wants to do."

    True, that's the top priority for Hill, limited to eight games in 2007 because of a wrist injury and just four games last year after tearing knee cartilage.

    But he's also burning to prove that the club invested wisely when it made the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Clemson standout, a former Atlantic Coast Conference sprint champion, its first-round draft choice in 2006.

    "I'm looking forward to being that corner that the Rams drafted 15th overall," Hill said. "I'm a competitor, and if you don't have that desire to be what you think you are every Sunday or every day at practice, then you don't need to be playing this game."

    UPS AND DOWNS

    On the day he was drafted, Hill invited the entire populace of St. George, S.C., to join him in celebration. Many of the 2,100 residents did just that, toasting the town's first homegrown professional athlete.

    A few months later, Hill made his NFL debut as the Rams' nickel back in front of 65,577 fans at the Edward Jones Dome. Hill picked off a pass from Denver quarterback Jake Plummer in the 18-10 victory.

    By Week 5, Hill was a starter as injuries began to deplete the secondary. The Rams wound up 8-8 in coach Scott Linehan's first season at the helm and Hill completed an encouraging rookie year, finishing with 42 tackles and three interceptions.

    The fortunes for Linehan and the youngster he tapped with his first-ever draft selection soon began to sour, however. By midseason the next year, the Rams were 0-8 and Hill was headed for the injured-reserve list and serious wrist surgery. That 3-13 season was followed by an even worse 2008 campaign, for the coach and the cornerback. Linehan was fired after the Rams opened 0-4, en route to a 2-14 record. In the 31-14 drubbing by the visiting Buffalo Bills on Sept. 28 that sealed Linehan's fate, Hill went down with the knee injury that would end his season.

    MEETING EXPECTATIONS

    Frustrated that he'd lost another season, Hill became even more disheartened when his knee was mysteriously slow to heal despite hours of painful rehab.

    At one point, he seemed to indicate that his career could be in jeopardy, grumbling, "At least I can say I made it to the league."

    Hill kept complaining of irritation behind the knee, and doctors eventually discovered a cyst there. Once it was drained, Hill rebounded quickly. He has had no problems with the joint during training camp.

    "You just want to make it through camp so you can make it through the season," Hill said. "But I was a hundred percent coming in; that's the main thing."

    That at least gives him a fighting chance to refute skeptics eager to slap a "bust" label on him. First-rounders tend to be judged quickly and harshly, noted Rams defensive tackle Adam Carriker, the 13th overall selection in 2007.

    "You're picked in the first round, they're paying you a lot of money, and you want to live up to that," Carriker said. "But in (Hill's) defense, he hasn't really had a chance. I mean, if you're hurt, what are you going to do?"

    Long, the No. 2 overall pick last year, agreed that first-rounders are subjected to immediate — and enduring — pressure to perform.

    "We all feel it; we all have our reputations to live up to," he said. "A lot is expected of us. You just have to rise above that."

    That's the plan, Hill said.

    "I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'm almost there," he said. "You've just got to get back into the groove of things, because you've been out of it so long. The last few practices, it's starting to come back. I'm excited about that."

    Hill, 27, has helped his cause by taking particular care in developing a complete game, instead of relying so heavily on his speed and athleticism.

    "He's not just going out and playing on pure ability," said safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, a fellow member of the '06 draft class. "He's focused, and he's allowing his knowledge of the game, his coaching and his skills to take him to another level."

    Hill is taking no chances with his second chance.

    "I've had my share of the down times with the injuries, but I definitely feel like that's behind me now," he said. "I'm ready to move on."


  2. #2
    shower beers's Avatar
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    Re: Tye Hill ready for another chance with Rams

    Good article to read, but I feel like I read a similar one every training camp for this guy.

    I hope he pulls through, though.

  3. #3
    eldfan's Avatar
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    Re: Tye Hill ready for another chance with Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by shower beers View Post
    Good article to read, but I feel like I read a similar one every training camp for this guy.

    I hope he pulls through, though.
    Correct we need him to step up.
    :ramlogo:

  4. #4
    Nick_Weasel's Avatar
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    Re: Tye Hill ready for another chance with Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by shower beers View Post
    Good article to read, but I feel like I read a similar one every training camp for this guy.
    I feel like I read this article every year for every under-performer. List all the disappointments from the previous season and you're almost guaranteed to read an article about how each of them is working hard and looks great during camp.

  5. #5
    TekeRam's Avatar
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    Re: Tye Hill ready for another chance with Rams

    I certainly hope that it's true this time with Hill, because we need a strong secondary in the NFC West. That and if Hill actually made a pro bowl, Tx would have to eat his hat!

    So here's to Tye finally getting "it" and becoming a strong performer in the backfield. No more getting shown up by rookie receivers in the first game, ok?

  6. #6
    Keenum's Avatar
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    Re: Tye Hill ready for another chance with Rams

    He's really got to step up this year or he'll probably be gone. If he can avoid injuries, he should be alright.

  7. #7
    btimsah Guest

    Re: Tye Hill ready for another chance with Rams

    If Tye can step up, that would be huge. He (to me) could make a great cover 2 corner.

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