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Safety Will Hill displays a lot of energy on Ravens' practice field

Ravens safety Will Hill.
Ravens safety Will Hill. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun)

Veteran safety Will Hill moved around the Ravens' practice field Wednesday, determined to make up for lost time after serving a six-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

After not practicing since the preseason because of his league-mandated punishment, Hill was running around fast enough during his first practice of the regular season that teammates urged him to slow down.

"Yeah, I had a lot of energy out there," Hill told The Baltimore Sun. "Everybody was like, 'Yo, man, slow down.' I can't. I only got one speed right now."

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Hill endured a few false starts during his punishment as the NFL Players Association and his agents lobbied the league to reduce his suspension under a revised drug policy. The threshold for testing positive for marijuana was increased.

But Hill, who told The Sun that he failed his drug test due to inhaling second-hand marijuana smoke, and his case fell into a grey area of the policy, which didn't cover six-game suspensions.

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"Yeah, I was praying on it," Hill said. "The team backed me, the union and my agents. Ultimately, it wasn't what the NFL wanted. I had to sit that out. I didn't get my hopes up. If it came, it came. I just took my punishment like a man."

Hill, who is a three-time violator of NFL drug policies with a previous suspension for performance-enhancing drugs for taking Adderall, a drug commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, lost his appeal earlier this year and was cut by the New York Giants, his former team before joining the Ravens in late July.

"All of that stuff is behind me," Hill said. "I'm making good choices now about everything, who I hang out with, everything I do."

Signed to a one-year, $570,000 contract in July, Hill is arguably the Ravens' most accomplished safety and could push for playing time once he knocks off the rust of six weeks of inactivity other than working out and attending meetings.

Hill has long arms and is rangy at 6 feet 1, 220 pounds. During training camp, Dean Pees said he wished the former Giants starter was eligible for the start of the regular season.

"Any time you have a phenomenal talent like Will Hill on your team, he definitely can help your defense, whether it be coming up and supporting in the run game or basically communicating in the back end," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "All that's pretty big. We get another big safety back in the lineup.

"Everybody knows how we like our safeties around here. It's going to be pretty good to actually get him out there in that Ravens black and see what he can do."

Hill recorded 77 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles last season. His decision-making and compliance with the NFL rulebook on drug usage are what have held him back. The Giants gave Hill multiple chances before ultimately giving up on him.

"Just being irresponsible," said Hill, a former blue chip-recruit from St. Peter's in New Jersey who went undrafted out of Florida primarily because of character concerns. "Yeah, I feel like I've learned."

Hill has 115 tackles, two interceptions and three forced fumbles in two NFL seasons.

Hill is under a roster exemption through Monday after being reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The Ravens would have to create a roster spot for Hill to play Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, which hasn't been ruled out.

"I'm ready to play definitely 100 percent," Hill said. "Yeah, I'm in the coaches' ear every second I'm on the field. I know everything, but they're just making sure I know everything. I'm in shape, lost a couple of pounds. I've been doing a lot of cardio."

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awilson@baltsun.com

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