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September 02, 2014

Panthers sign WR Stephen Hill to practice squad

The Panthers signed free agent wideout Stephen Hill to their practice squad Tuesday, a day after they worked out the former second-round pick of the New York Jets.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera indicated Monday the team didn't plan to sign Hill immediately.

But the Panthers must think Hill, who struggled with dropped passes throughout his two years in New York, could give them a deep threat they've lacked since Ted Ginn Jr. signed with Arizona during the offseason.

To make room for Hill on the practice squad, the Panthers released former Appalachian State linebacker D.J. Smith.

Hill was the Jets' second-round pick in 2012, a former Georgia Tech standout with good size (6-4) and speed (timed at 4.36 seconds in the 40 at the combine).

But he was waived Saturday during the Jets' final roster cuts after two mostly disappointing seasons.

According to Pro Football Focus, Hill caught 37.5 percent of the passes thrown in his direction in 2013, which ranked 100th among 111 wideouts. As rookie, Hill was 102nd out of 105 receivers with a catch percentage of 45.7, according to the football analytics site.

Hill finished with 45 receptions for 594 yards and four touchdowns over 23 games with the Jets. He's another piece for a Panthers' receiving group that was completely overhauled during the offseason.

Hill also has a tie to Panthers receivers coach Ricky Proehl. Hill's agent, Alan Herman, represented Proehl during Proehl's playing career.

Herman told the Observer on Saturday Proehl could "do wonders" with Hill.

Hill, 23, is two months younger than Kelvin Benjamin, the Panthers' first-round pick who was the clear No. 1 wideout during the preseason.

Veterans Jason Avant and Jerricho Cotchery are possession receivers, and there is concern among some in the organization that Benjamin will face a barrage of double coverage without another fast wideout to stretch the field.

The Panthers signed Tiquan Underwood with that in mind during the offseason. But Underwood was released during the first round of cuts after an inconsistent showing at OTAs and training camp.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on September 2, 2014 at 05:10 PM | Permalink


Welcome to the team Hill! Time to catch fire!

Posted by: Nork | Sep 2, 2014 5:21:05 PM

smart move!

Posted by: 10-4!! | Sep 2, 2014 5:22:09 PM

practice? we're talking 'bout practice?

Posted by: tony clifton | Sep 2, 2014 5:29:59 PM

Watch them ribs bucs going to stomp the Panthers

Posted by: jmońe | Sep 2, 2014 5:49:58 PM

This could be good. I trust Proehl to give Hill a chance to get head right and we will see how bad he wants on the team.

Posted by: Kelso | Sep 2, 2014 5:57:31 PM

Great move. Low risk, possible high reward under Proehl's tutelage. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Posted by: Cyteria Knight | Sep 2, 2014 6:08:29 PM

Good move. Worst case he doesn't pan out and we don't lose anything, best case Proehl helps him become the player he can be. Plus he is young and Hill and KB could be that due we need for years to come.

Posted by: jason | Sep 2, 2014 6:21:58 PM

Stephen Hill can't catch a cold guys, even if he could his hands are made of stone. He's a week 1 player...that's it. His agent wants to rip the Jets, but the best he can do is get signed to a practice squad. At times you seriously had to question his heart as well.

Posted by: Tony | Sep 2, 2014 6:35:41 PM

I have to agree with Jason above. Stephen Hill just simply cannot catch. You cannot teach a grown man to become a receiver or how to catch at this stage in his career. Good luck Ricky Proehl with this project. You will be scratching your head.

Posted by: Michael Richardson | Sep 2, 2014 6:49:29 PM

I have to agree with Jason above. Stephen Hill just simply cannot catch. You cannot teach a grown man to become a receiver or how to catch at this stage in his career. Good luck Ricky Proehl with this project. You will be scratching your head. THIS TYPE OF THINKING IS NOT ALWAYS TRUE. He can improve his ability to catch and run routes. He is not without any skills. He may need to wait until the end of this or next year! I have to agree with Jason above. Stephen Hill just simply cannot catch. You cannot teach a grown man to become a receiver or how to catch at this stage in his career. Good luck Ricky Proehl with this project. You will be scratching your head.

Posted by: William Aaron Berry III | Sep 2, 2014 7:22:00 PM

Stephen Hill will do great with the Panthers. He's only 23 and he can learn how to catch at this stage of his career. The same was said about Roddy White of the Atlanta Falcons at the beginning of his career. Those talks have come to a cease! The only difference, the Falcons stuck with him and continued to work with catching the ball. Now he's one of the best receivers in the game.

Posted by: Daryl | Sep 2, 2014 7:51:48 PM

I don't care what anybody thinks or says about the guy i am ecstatic about this signing. I really wanted Carolina to draft him a couple of years ago to pair up with Steve smith. Instead we chose Amini And I was bummed. He may have concentration issues which affects his catching ability but that can be corrected. Ricky Prohel is one of the best in the business at coaching up wide receivers. I think the jets pulled the plug on hill too soon, but hey another mans trash is another mans treasure. I think placing him on the practice squad will enable him to learn the system adapt to the play book and give him a fresh start and revive his career. Great job Gettleman for seeing the big picture. Imagine him on the other side of Benjamin along with Olsen. Straight nightmare.

Posted by: Taurus | Sep 2, 2014 8:25:50 PM

A lot thought the same about tedd ginn jr and look at year he had. We got somebody others don't have Proehl.

Better do it this Sunday be your best chance while we are just getting rolling!
Your bucks getting so much love cause of Josh Mcown(lmao we had him here, last year was a career "season" for him) and Lovie smh!!

Posted by: 10-4!! | Sep 2, 2014 8:37:36 PM

Sorry Bucs. Doesn't matter

Posted by: 10-4!! | Sep 2, 2014 8:39:03 PM

GT fan here.

The problem with Stephen Hill isn't that he can't catch...he will make SPECTACULAR catches look routine.

Hill's problem is that he makes routine catches look nearly impossible with drops. It's not like he doesn't work hard or doesn't care...he was one of the hardest working guys at GT. A raw high school athlete that turned himself into a 2nd round NFL pick.

In terms of physical gifts, Hill ranks right up there with more well known GT WRs Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas. Unfortunately, Hill never had Calvin's innate WR abilities, or Demaryius circumstances to be coached up and play with a great QB like Peyton Manning.

I think the Panthers made a great move. Hill is still young and has great upside compared to a lot of guys in the league. He's still raw, but he's in a WAY better situation with the Panthers than he was with the Jets. Teaming him up with Cam Newton has the potential to make Hill a great complementary WR to Benjamin on the other side.

I for one think Hill will make good with the Panthers. He may not ever turn out like the other GT WRs, but he can be very productive.

Posted by: Danny | Sep 2, 2014 9:05:50 PM

Speed is great and we need help at wide receiver but cutting DJ smith is a huge mistake. Watching him play in green bay and taking reps with the first team showed his potential. Its a sad day when hard work and potential is not seen for what it is. I love the speedy Stephen hills potential but why let someone with such talent go. Must be like Steve smith, we love u but we gotta move one.

Posted by: chria Clawson | Sep 2, 2014 11:00:36 PM

Good move and I hope that Coach Proehl can coach him up and he can become a deep threat and a possible #2 wideout in the future.

Posted by: Whitecomet77 | Sep 3, 2014 12:02:32 AM

There is a reason why the ONLY stephen hill highlight u see is where he is getting BLASTED by troy polamalu. The position IS WIDE RECEIVER. As a JETS fan... Good luck and good riddance.

Posted by: william boshanky | Sep 3, 2014 1:06:04 AM

Anyone got hill on their fantasy team????

Posted by: william boshanky | Sep 3, 2014 1:08:44 AM

Yea, I'm pretty excited but I realize it's a long shot. Hill has the upside you want and the ability. But we know it might not work out Jets fans. And obviously you guys want him to stay a bum because if he blossoms with us it makes the Jets look that much worse, lol. I would be the same way. I can understand.

Posted by: Rob | Sep 3, 2014 9:25:12 AM

Release the Kraken!!!

Posted by: The Kraken | Sep 3, 2014 9:36:22 AM

What's with all the negativity?? Give the guy a chance...jeez! The guy just may need a new start!

Posted by: Fredly | Sep 5, 2014 12:19:04 PM

Stephen Hill will prove himself w/ the panthers. The kid needs a new start as the coaching system for WR on the Jets is a Joke along with Rex Ryan, Oh Eric Decker will save day don't think so! Vick & Hill would have been great cause Geno is in the same position as Hill was last year needs to develop or your gone. Hills proof of that! You would think that a 2nd round draft pick would have received the " proper" guidance into developing into the NFL from collage but just goes to show the Jets don't have that. Would have been nice for the Patriots to pick him up w/ Brady's long ball and there system but w/ Cam Newton "if he will slid not take hits" and will stay healthy you'll begin to see an amazing change in Hills game! You can't give up on a GT wide receiver and the Jets did! Pathetic

Posted by: Drew | Sep 6, 2014 1:50:32 PM

I agree 110% there Kraken he's only 23 and was thrown in as a rookie w/ zero to none guidance from his drafted team. Jets can't get good WRs cause there system is a joke! Like to here of 1 good wide out they have besides Decker. I would have never left the Broncos no matter how much $ was in for it. The Broncos have Manning and made it to the SB last year. Where are the Jets going? 8-8 yeah I want to be on that team! LOL

Posted by: Drew | Sep 6, 2014 2:01:40 PM

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