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Will Hill looks forward to 'hitting people' at strong safety in second Ravens season

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman runs from Ravens strong safety Will Hill after catching a pass in the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff game.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman runs from Ravens strong safety Will Hill after catching a pass in the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff game. (Charles Krupa / AP)

Will Hill has displayed his gentler side throughout this offseason, smiling and mugging for photographs while pushing his infant daughter in her baby stroller.

Hill has been able to indulge his zest for knocking things over on bowling lanes in Pikesville and Glen Burnie. His high score is an impressive 256.

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What Hill really wants, though, in his second season with the Ravens after signing his $1.542 million restricted tender, is an increased chance to inflict some punishment on opponents.

After the Ravens acquired former Houston Texans starter Kendrick Lewis as their new free safety, Hill is expected to shift to strong safety this season. He should be more involved in tackling because of his proximity to the line of scrimmage.

"I just get to hit people," Hill said. "That's what I like to do."

Listed at 6 feet 1 and 207 pounds, the rangy former University of Florida player looks much bigger this offseason, particularly in the upper body. Hill has been a regular at the Ravens' offseason conditioning program, and it shows.

"Just a little bit," Hill said when asked about the bulk he's added. "I'm ready to go."

Hill is slated to compete with former first-round NFL draft pick Matt Elam for the starting strong safety job. He stated no preference for where he'd like to line up.

"I don't care," Hill said. "I just want to play football."

Hill's enjoyment of football became obvious last season when he revitalized his career after serving a six-game suspension for violating the NFL substance abuse policy for a positive drug test for marijuana. He emerged as the Ravens' starting free safety after his  NFL punishment.

Hill had his moments, as he started eight regular-season games and two playoff games for the Ravens during the 2014 season. He had 42 tackles in the regular season, and returned an interception for a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints while shadowing tight end Jimmy Graham.

"I came back six games late," Hill said. "I'm just trying to get a good 16 games this year."

For his career, the former blue-chip recruit from St. Peter's Prep in Jersey City, N.J., has 132 tackles, three interceptions, two touchdowns, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Since the end of the season, New Jersey law enforcement officials in Hudson County disclosed they have an arrest warrant issued in March 2014 for Hill, who police said failed to pay $16,588.18 in back child support to his baby's mother.

Hill has a history of off-the-field problems, including an arrest when he was playing for the New York Giants in December 2013 in New Jersey for failure to pay child support. This latest child support issue involves the same woman. Although Hill isn't being actively sought by police, he would be subject to arrest if he has any interaction with authorities.

Hill's representatives and team officials told The Baltimore Sun that Hill is taking care of his child support responsibilities and working to resolve the issue.

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Signed by the Ravens last year to a one-year, $570,000 contract, Hill served his suspension without pay after his agents and the NFL Players Association unsuccessfully lobbied the league to shorten his punishment under a revised league drug policy. The latest suspension cost Hill $201,176 in game checks.

Hill has been suspended for a total of 14 games in three NFL seasons, including two four-game suspensions triggered by positive tests for Adderall and marijuana. The suspensions cost him a total of $405,882 and created an impression of unreliability.

Hill was arrested in 2011 in Florida for driving with a suspended license, was arrested in 2013 for nonpayment of child support, went through a divorce and has fathered four children with three women.

With the Ravens, though, Hill has been building some trust and says he's dramatically changed his lifestyle. Rather than frequenting nightclubs, he's now bowling and spending quiet nights at home with his daughter.

"I spend a lot of time with my daughter," Hill said. "I'm at the training facility. I ain't going anywhere."

Hill said he greatly appreciates Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome for giving him a chance after the Giants gave up on him.

"Yeah, it's a good relationship with the Ravens," Hill said. "Ozzie had a lot of faith in me, and I had a lot of faith in him. That's my best friend right now. To have me come here and help me with my life, it means a lot."

Teammates and coaches have praised Hill for how he fit in with others in the Ravens' locker room. With the exception of the child support issue that predated his employment with the Ravens, Hill hasn't gotten into trouble.

"Will Hill, he has a lot of talent," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said during a season-ending news conference. "It's something that we always knew. He also has a great love for the game. Having the offseason, having the OTAs and the minicamp and the training camp is only going to really help him tremendously, as far as being a really good safety for us.

"We put it on his plate a little bit. We're challenging him for the next three or four months. 'Are you going to come back a better player than you were when you left here in January, and is that slate going to be clean?' We fully expect it to be. He just had a baby. He's doing great with his family, and we fully expect him to do a great job with that, and we're going to try to help him any way we can with that."

Hill said he's in a good place mentally, but is impatient for the season to start.

"I'm great," Hill said. "This is the bad part right now, just waiting."

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