Former LSU star running back Jeremy Hill could have a huge homecoming when his Cincinnati Bengals visit the New Orleans Saints this Sunday.
Starting Bengals back Giovanni Bernard missed Wednesday’s practice. He’s sat out of the last two games with a hip injury.
Hill, a Baton Rouge native, would relish recording a breakout game in his home state.
"It is always a good opportunity to go back home," Hill said. "Being from South Louisiana, just growing up and having aspirations of playing in the Dome in high school, just trying to make it to the state championship game – it is always a good opportunity to go back home and play in front of some of my home fans and some of my friends and family."
So far, Hill is juggling more than 40 ticket requests.
However, with chances high that Bernard will be sidelined again this Sunday, Hill is much more concerned with his personal game.
He’s shown flashes of brilliance this season: racking up 154 yards against the Jaguars in Week 9. However in last week’s disappointing 24-3 loss to the rival Cleveland Browns, Hill had just 12 carries for 55 yards.
Despite his rookie status, Hill expects more of himself, especially after his time in LSU’s offense.
"It definitely prepared me a lot, especially being in a NFL style offense with the new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron who came in and did a great job for us," Hill said, remembering his time wearing purple and gold. "Implementing that new system, teaching us the way the NFL goes and giving us a lot of stories week in and week out on the experiences he’s had in the NFL. It allowed those teams to come to fruition since I’ve been in the league this short amount of time. Just doing that week in and week out and playing in the SE, as well a lot of guys are playing in the NFL right now who I played against in college. I think it should definitely help me a lot and prepare me with what I am going through right now."
Hill is mentally preparing for this matchup, as much as he is physically. He’s spent a great deal of time studying Rob Ryan’s squad.
"I have seen a lot from their defense. They are a defense that plays a lot of fronts. They do a lot of different blitzes," Hill said. "They’ve toned back a lot of different things that they did early on in the season in these past few weeks now just creating a lot of generic looks and just relying on their front four to rush, Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette. Those guys can get to the quarterback. I think Rob Ryan’s done a great job allowing those guys to rush and just find coverage behind him. We have our hands full."
It’s the little things, according to Hill, that both he and his teammates need to tweak in order to find success in New Orleans. Despite last week’s drumming, Hill says the Bengals offense is encouraged after watching the film and strategizing about the appropriate adjustments.
"We need to set ourselves up for success, not put ourselves in third and long because that will be playing into their hands and get their home crowd rocking and allow those defensive ends to get off the ball. We can’t do that to ourselves. We have to play in front of the sticks and not put ourselves in tough situations."