Tyreek Hill showed plenty of speed, agility and pass-catching ability in Dolphins training camp for two weeks, but it was all against a Miami secondary who lacks the cornerback Byron Jones and rarely trotted Xavien Howard in 11 counter 11 drills.
Next week, Hill, the Dolphins’ $120 million receiver, will be able to show off his skills against an opponent for the first time with his new team. The Dolphins travel to Tampa for joint practices with the Buccaneers on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of their Aug. 13 preseason game.
The times Hill faced Howard, mostly in a 1-on-1 setting, Howard got the better of him, deflecting passes or forcing knockdowns with tight coverage. He has Hill ready to see something else.
“I’m really sick of playing X. He locked me out in practice,” said Hill, who will face the team he lost to in the Super Bowl two years ago with the Kansas Chiefs. City. “I’m really looking forward to getting to Tampa, and I know the guys are really looking forward to it as well.”
Hill is a known chatterbox who thrives on the competitive nature of knowing that there is extracurricular activity that comes with winning or losing a rep to an opponent.
“If I don’t talk, I don’t perform because I feel like I perform better under pressure. It’s just my mentality,” Hill said.
“If I’m relaxed, I relax and vibrate, so I just go with the flow. … Let’s say, for example, I go against a DB and he doesn’t say anything to me the whole match, to me, I’m like, ‘Okay, we’re brothers-in-law.’ But, if he’s sitting there talking rubbish to me, doing his thing, in front of me every game, then I’m going to challenge him.
Hill wants his confidence to transcend and extend to players with more reserved personalities like quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and compatriot Jaylen Waddle. It’s something he’s proud to incorporate into his new, younger teammates.
“It rubs off on everyone,” Hill said. “Tua even talked about rubbish, so I feel like it’s great for his confidence going forward, going into these big games that we’re about to play. I’m like a matchstick. I starts the thing, and everyone finishes it.
For a star receiver, Hill has seen a lot of work during training camp — when coach Mike McDaniel likes to give established veterans maintenance and load management days.
“I’m always going to go strong,” said Hill, who can also benefit from the relationship Tagovailoa has established in camp. “I don’t care if I’m injured or not. I’m going to go hard. When I’m on the pitch, I’m going to give everything to my teammates.
With all the activity, Hill had Wednesday off this week before team Thursday and has since returned for Friday and Saturday drills.
“I just have to take time for my body. I’m a fast guy. I feel like only fast guys get certain injuries,” said Hill, who alluded to a minor tweak. “It wasn’t really a load management day for me. I had a slight ding-up. So I’m not really going to dwell on it.
“I really think these days are important. Playing in Miami, that sun can weigh on you, as you can see, and it can flush fluids out of your body, put so much pain in your hamstrings and other muscles that you have in your body. These days are very important. How we approach these days is really up to us.
In his time, approaching five months, in Miami, Hill impressed Dolphins wide receivers coach Wes Welker for more than just his ability.
“Tyreek is a very smart football player,” Welker said earlier in the week. “He understands space. It includes the covers. He understands, whenever you show him exactly how you want him to do something, he gets it done very quickly. It was fun to be there. It makes my job much easier.