When the Ravens signed veteran former New York Giants safety Will Hill to a one-year, $730,000 contract in late July, they did so with the understanding that it would take time before they'd have the opportunity to insert him into the starting lineup.
After Hill served a six-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy for a positive test for marijuana and an unsuccessful attempt to shorten his punishment under the revised drug policies, he has started the last two games.
Hill is still knocking off rust as he tries to regain his old form as one of the top safeties last season for the Giants when he recorded 72 tackles and two interceptions. Hill has 11 tackles overall along with a pass deflection in the Ravens' 21-7 win Sunday over the Tennessee Titans.
"That's not easy to do," secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo said of Hill's play. "He goes through training camp after he gets used to new teammates, and I thought he handled that really, really well. If for six weeks of sitting in a meeting room and all you do is look at tape and you listen to coaches talk, that gets frustrating.
"And I know it was long and frustrating for him, but he came out of the blocks really well. It took a little while for him to get the communication down, get the rust off and play some good football, but we think right now what we have is a guy that is experienced, obviously, like you said, he played in New York.
"He's a big-bodied guy that can run real well. I thought the play he made on Sunday in the man-to-man coverage where he knocked the ball down was really, really key. It was a third-down play, and we need a lot of that. We need to be making plays back there, and he has done that."
Hill made his starting debut during a 43-23 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he had his struggles as he was stiff-armed in the face by Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown and fell to the ground as Brown ran away from him for a 54-yard touchdown.
Hill, a tall, rangy safety at 6 feet 1, 207 pounds, was a blue-chip recruit for the University of Florida out of St. Peter's Prep in Jersey City, N.J., but he has had off-field issues as a three-time violator of the league's drug policies. When he has been on the field, he has played well.
"I pride myself on my range and my ball skills," Hill said. "For them to having that faith in me [to start], that makes me go out there and work even harder. It's just getting my confidence back."