Stephen Hill knew instantly what he should have done.
The Jets rookie receiver had failed to use his hands to make the catch and Captain Munnerlyn made him pay.
Hill watched in disbelief as the Mark Sanchez pass intended for him, ricocheted off his back forearm and into the hands of the Panthers cornerback.
“I knew what I did once it happened,” the Jets wideout said Tuesday, adding that the index finger he injured in Cortland is “not at all” an issue anymore.
Concentration lapses and drops have cropped up more and more in Hill’s game – both in practice and on (preseason) game day. But to be fair, he’s still a rookie. These are the learning curves young football players must navigate when they reach the NFL.
But while fans may be worrying about Hill’s hands, the rookie wideout refuses to sweat the incompletions and the interceptions – including Munnerlyn’s, which resulted in a Panthers touchdown.
“It just goes out the window,” Hill said. “Once it happens, it just goes. I get back up and go for the next play. It’s not hard at all. You have to do that. Because if it stays on (your mind) a long time, it’ll bother you the whole game. Once I made that drop, I went back in, they told me ‘You can catch the ball, so just go out there and catch it.’ Came back and caught four passes.”
Hill, who was targeted seven times, finished with five catches (including a 32-yarder) for 68 yards.
He said the coaching staff has been patient with him because they realize most of drops occur because “I’m anxious to get up the field.”
Rex Ryan’s confidence in Hill hasn’t wavered – and neither has Sanchez’s.
“We’ll just get him on the Juggs machine and keep throwing him the ball. But nothing’s changed,” the starting quarterback said. “He’s going to be one of our playmakers. We’ve seen him make those plays and couple of those are routine catches and I know he can do it.”
“Can he make the catch? Absolutely. That’s like a routine one for him. (It’s like) a grounder to the short stop. (It was) well within his means and he knows that.”