FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Stephen Hill knew something was wrong as soon as he hit the turf.
The Jets wide receiver had taken a shot to his chin from Tennessee’s Michael Griffin on New York’s second offensive play last Sunday and he couldn’t get to his feet.
“I just knew it was a pretty bad hit,” Hill said Friday. “It did have me stunned a little bit, and as I tried to get up, the training staff was around me and they told me to just take it slow and told me to go to the locker room.”
Hill’s day was over after suffering a concussion that has his status for the team’s game at Atlanta on Monday night uncertain. He returned to practice Friday on a limited basis, participating in individual drills while wearing a red no-contact jersey.
“That’s actually encouraging,” coach Rex Ryan said. “So, we’ll see how that progresses.”
Hill dealt with headaches for a few days after the hit, which drew Griffin a $21,000 fine from the NFL. The play wasn’t called for a penalty on the field, however.
“Hey, that’s not in my hands,” Hill said. “That’s in the refs’ hands. It would’ve been nice for it to go our way, but things happen.”
Hill has gone through the NFL’s protocol for head injuries, and would need to be cleared for full contact in order to play Monday night. He said he’d “love to” be able to take the field at the Georgia Dome, especially since he played his college ball at nearby Georgia Tech before being drafted in the second round last year.
“It does mean a lot, playing at home, especially against the team you basically grew up watching,” Hill said. “So, it’s a big deal in some form or fashion for people who are watching. For me, it’s just another game, honestly, but it’s a good feeling just playing against a team that you definitely watched.”
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg acknowledged that the Jets might have to use Hill differently, if he plays, considering he is coming off a concussion.
“We don’t know if he’s going to play yet or not, but certainly, it comes into play,” Mornhinweg said. “There’s no question about that on specific things that you may ask any player at any position, and certainly at receiver, there’s certain things you may or may not do.”
Hill is second on the team with 13 receptions, three behind Kellen Winslow Jr., for 233 yards and a touchdown. Before the injury last Sunday, Hill was coming off a terrific outing against Buffalo in which he had three catches for 108 yards and a score.
“There’s not frustration, but a little bit of disappointment,” Hill said of getting hurt so early against the Titans. “Coming off a good game, you definitely want to get another one back under your belt. Other than that, things happen.
“It’s football. You just have to take it and run with it.”
Hill isn’t the only member of the Jets’ receiving corps who is uncertain to play against the Falcons. Santonio Holmes has a hamstring injury that is likely to keep him sidelined a few weeks, and Clyde Gates was limited Friday with a knee ailment. That leaves Jeremy Kerley, Ryan Spadola and recently signed David Nelson as the only healthy wide receivers on the roster.
Holmes made some headlines after he said Thursday that “I can’t throw it to myself and catch it, otherwise I would” because he had one catch in 49 plays before getting hurt. Both Hill and Ryan downplayed the comments Friday.
“I know what he meant by that,” Hill said, “so it was definitely not a big issue.”
Ryan joked that Holmes was probably right that he can’t throw it to himself, but “maybe we should try that,” before reiterating the wide receiver’s point that he faces double coverage a lot of the time he’s in games. Ryan also didn’t think it was a criticism of rookie quarterback Geno Smith.
“No, if you read the whole thing, it was an unusual comment, but he’s not the only that makes those,” Ryan joked, taking a shot at himself. “He certainly didn’t mean it as a slight to Geno.”
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