Rookie Jaylen Hill's Debut a Bright Spot for Ravens


Perhaps the biggest surprise of the summer for the Ravens was the emergence of undrafted rookie cornerback Jaylen Hill.

He first came to Baltimore as a tryout player during rookie minicamp, but he stuck around by impressing the coaching staff every step of the way. He consistently found himself around the football in training camp and then that carried over to preseason games where he led the Ravens with three interceptions.

He had gone from a longshot to an intriguing prospect in a matter of months, and the Ravens decided to keep him on the 53-man roster despite a hamstring injury he suffered just before the regular season.

The hamstring issue took longer than expected to heal, but he returned to practice two weeks ago and made his NFL regular-season debut Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

"It's been six weeks, but it feels longer than that," Hill said. "I've been waiting on this my whole life. Just to live up to this moment and be able to go out there and be part of it was all very special. I wish we could have got the win."

Hill played a limited role in the matchup with Minnesota, spelling veteran nickel back Lardarius Webb in the second half. He finished the game with a tackle and a nice third-down pass breakup on Adam Thielen.

Hill only saw nine defensive snaps, but it was an encouraging start for the rookie corner.

"It went good," Hill said. "It was good to get out there and fly around and get back to the normal things – playing on defense, playing on special teams."

Hill caught the attention of first-round pick Marlon Humphrey, who tweeted about his performance after the game.

If Hill is going to carve out a role for himself on defense, it will mostly likely come as a slot corner. Outside corners Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr and Humphrey have all played at a high level this year.

Hill's size, 5-foot-10, 178 pounds, also makes him a more natural fit inside.

The Ravens will have to decide whether they want to have Hill take on more of a workload week-by-week, and they also have second-year cornerback Maurice Canady nearing a return from a training camp knee injury. Canady is currently on injured reserve, but he returned to practice last week and could be activated to the 53-man roster as early as the Week 9 matchup in Tennessee.

Regardless of what role Hill ends up playing, he's still a promising prospect who could end up being a diamond in the rough for Baltimore.

"I'm just glad to be back and help out the team in any way," Hill said.

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