Injuries aren’t always severe enough to keep a player out for practices and/or games. But, they could be enough to slow a player down over the course of a season. For example, Jeremy Hill played a full 16 game season in 2015. But, he looked sluggish and was ineffective in every aspect other than punching the ball into the endzone. In response, he has given multiple different explanations this offseason as to what he was doing wrong and how he can fix the issues this year. But, after scoring another touchdown in a decent preseason outing against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, Hill offered up another potential explanation for why he looks so much better than he did last year.
“I do feel faster this year because I feel healthier,” Hill told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “I had a few nagging things last year that I thought slowed me down some. They didn’t keep me out, but I do feel better now.”
The presence of nagging injuries last season would definitely make sense. Early on in 2015, he looked preoccupied during his runs and hesitant to hit holes.
This particular play against the Ravens was just one of many examples of his issues early on in the season. Still, it’s easy to see Hill being slow, hesitant, and unnecessarily shifty in the five seconds before he is tackled for a mere three yard gain. He averaged 3.6 yards per rush last year, and this play is a perfect example of why.
Although the injuries were never severe enough to keep him from playing in any of last years’ games, there were a few particular plays that definitely could have created a nagging injury situation that would have hampered him without proper rest and time to allow the injury to heal.
In Week 2, when the Bengals hosted the San Diego Chargers, Hill suffered a minor injury to his left knee after being bent backward. After the play, he was benched in favor of Giovani Bernard and didn’t return for much of the second half. He was already playing poorly before this injury happened, but it was a scary looking play that definitely could have led to nagging issues going forward.
Hill may have experienced further issues with the knee a bit later in the season as he was a limited participant in an October practice before the Bengals’ Week 5 game against the Seattle Seahawks. It was a game in which he looked absolutely awful, recording only 13 yards on eight carries before being benched in the first quarter in favor of Giovani Bernard.
Of course, we don’t know exactly what nagging injuries he was referring to when he said that injuries slowed him down last year. But, if the gruesome looking hit suffered against the Chargers is the source of the problems, it’s no wonder he struggled early on in 2015.
Hopefully, this year he avoids injury and returns to his 2014 form.