Will Hill watched the entire 2011 NFL season from home, not knowing if he would ever get his chance to play football again. So sitting out these last four games after violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances -- he says for taking the prescription drug Adderall to help with his ADHD -- wasn't as rough as that.
In some ways, at least.
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Last year was all about missing out on hypotheticals. After predraft behavioral issues scared all 32 teams away, he was out of the sport. He didn't have a team. Didn't have teammates. Didn't have a job.
This time he had all of those, and that made his time away from the game more difficult even though it was shorter and more finite.
"Once you start playing again and you see your peers out there busting their butt, you're like, 'I wish I was there. I wish I could help them in some way, shape or form,' " Hill said this past week. "It's like I built a bond with these fellas and I felt I was letting them down by not being there and able to help them."
He wasn't the only one who felt that way. Watching the Giants-Steelers game last week, Hill saw the Giants have their worst special-teams outing of the season. He would have been a part of that unit, perhaps able to help curtail some of the big returns on kickoffs and punts.
"It was definitely [frustrating]," he said with a groan. "And then the people that are always at my household are looking at me like: 'You know you were supposed to be right there.' So they're beating me up while I'm beating myself up."
Hill won't be watching from home Sunday. He was added to the Giants' active roster Saturday after practicing with the team all week. Against the Bengals, he will be called upon to contribute mostly on that special-teams unit that was battered by the Steelers.
"He's got speed, quickness and good power for the position," special-teams coordinator Tom Quinn said of Hill. "He's pretty dynamic that way. He'll separate from guys and make guys miss and elude them as they're trying to block him."
To make room on the 53-man roster for Hill, the Giants put cornerback Michael Coe on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.
Hill didn't spend his time away from the team idly watching them go 3-1. He worked out in Atlanta with Ray Buchanan, a 12-year NFL veteran and two-time All-Pro player at safety. When he came back to the team earlier this week, Hill felt he was in better shape than when he left.
"I felt as though this break actually gave my body a little time to rest," Hill said. "Everybody out there [at practice] was like, 'I'm jealous, man. You got fresh legs.' I'm running around everybody right now . . . I don't want to say it was a good thing because it's bad, but at the same time [it's good] for me to be able to come back fresh and help the team."
Snee makes the trip. Guard Chris Snee (ankle), who missed two practices and is listed as questionable, traveled with the team to Cincinnati Saturday but still is far from assured of playing against the Bengals. Snee will have to test his ankle before the game before a final decision is made. Having him on the trip, however, is a sign that the Giants are optimistic he will play.