Rookie de­fen­sive end Hill leads team in sacks

The Record (Troy, NY) - - SPORTS - By Tom Canavan

EAST RUTHER­FORD >> There’s been so much at­ten­tion show­ered on half­back Saquon Barkley, it’s easy to for­get the Gi­ants have been get­ting con­tri­bu­tions from some other rook­ies.

Will Her­nan­dez, the sec­on­dround pick, has started all 12 games at left guard and helped Barkley get within 46 yards of a 1,000-yard rush­ing sea­son.

The guy who gets over­looked is de­fen­sive line­man B. J. Hull, the third-round pick out of North Carolina State who was the 69th player cho­sen in the draft.

Hill, who started two of the first seven games, has been a main­stay in the lineup since New York traded de­fen­sive tackle Da­mon Har­ri­son to Detroit in Oc­to­ber.

“When he came in, the thing that stood out the most, is that he’s ahead of his time in terms of his ma­tu­rity level,” de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor James Bettcher said Thurs­day.

“In the meet­ing room, on the prac­tice field, the way he works, the con­ver­sa­tion, you can rip his butt, you can coach him hard, lift him up, he can han­dle all that beyond what many rook­ies I’ve been around have been able to.”

Bettcher also is im­pressed Hill is not hit­ting the wall late in the sea­son. He is ac­tu­ally play­ing bet­ter.

A North Carolina State prod­uct, Hill had a ca­reer game this past week­end against the Chicago Bears with three tack­les and three sacks. He has a team-high five sacks, which ties the team rookie record set by line­backer Andy Headen in 1983 and tied by tackle Cor­nelius Grif­fin in 2000.

Hall of Famer Lawrence Tay­lor had 9½ sacks as a rookie in 1981, but that was

a year be­fore sacks be­came an of­fi­cial statis­tic, so it is not of­fi­cially the record.

No Gi­ants rookie has ever fin­ished a sea­son lead­ing the team in sacks.

“It feels pretty good,” Hill said of get­ting a sack, which he com­pared to a re­ceiver scor­ing a touch­down. “I am not go­ing to lie, es­pe­cially since we won the game. It was an amaz­ing feel­ing, es­pe­cially when you have the guys cel­e­brat­ing with you and con­grat­u­lat­ing you.”

Hill is dif­fer­ent than most rook­ies. He is quiet, ma­ture and not very flashy.

There was no elab­o­rate sack dance after any of his take­downs of Bears quar­ter­back Chase Daniel.

The Gi­ants had 14 sacks in their first 11 games and picked up five Sun­day, with line­backer Olivier Ver­non get­ting the other two.

“I just think the team is com­ing to­gether and we’re play­ing as one now,” Hill said. “You can see the way we are play­ing, the way we prac­tice, the way we go about our­selves on a dayto- day ba­sis.”

The big­gest ad­just­ment Hill has had to make is liv-

ing in the New York-New Jersey metropoli­tan area. There are many more peo­ple than in North Carolina and there is no com­par­ing the traf­fic.

Hill played on one of the best de­fen­sive lines in col­lege last year. The Wolf­pack had Bradley Chubb — the No. 5 pick over­all by Den­ver — Justin Jones, who also was taken in the third round by the Charg­ers, and Ken­tavius Street, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Nin­ers.

Chubb leads all rook­ies

with 10 sacks. He also took note of Hill’s ac­com­plish­ment on Sun­day.

“He did text me con­grat­u­la­tions,” Hill said.

Notes: The Gi­ants de­cided not to ac­ti­vate vet­eran RB Jonathan Ste­wart from in­jured re­serve. He was des­ig­nated to re­turn from a foot in­jury (Sept. 28) and has prac­ticed the past three weeks. ... S Lan­don Collins was of­fi­cially placed on in­jured re­serve. He needs shoul­der surgery to fix a par­tially torn labrum in­curred Sun­day. ... S Michael Thomas

was se­lected as the Gi­ants’ nom­i­nee for the NFL Wal­ter Pay­ton Man of the Year Award. The award is for out­stand­ing com­mu­nity ser­vice ac­tiv­i­ties off the field as well as ex­cel­lence on the field. ... TE Evan En­gram ( ham­string), WR Ster­ling Shep­ard (ribs) and LB Lorenzo Carter ( hip) prac­ticed full Thurs­day after be­ing lim­ited on Wed­nes­day. LBs Tae Davis (foot) missed his sec­ond straight prac­tice, while LB B. J. Good­son (neck/foot) was lim­ited.

TOM CANAVAN -THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Gi­ants rookie de­fen­sive line­man B.J. Hill talks to the me­dia after prac­tice Thurs­day in East Ruther­ford.

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