Few people know that Miami Dolphins
free safety Renaldo Hill is the younger brother of former Dolphin safety Ray
Hill (1998-2000), just the third set of brothers to have played for the team
(Glenn and Lyle Blackwood, Obafemi and Brendon Ayanbadejo are the others).
Since coming to Miami in 2006 as a free
agent (Raiders), he has been amongst the steadiest of players on defense. This
success isn't an accident; the former 7th round pick (Cardinals) has
relied on hard work and his faith in God to build a solid NFL career.
In 2006, Hill was third on
the team in tackles with 86 (64 solo) and had 7 passes defensed. Last season
was shaping up to be another solid effort before he tore the anterior cruciate
ligament (ACL) in his right knee in a game against the Patriots. Some people
doubted if Hill could come back fully from the injury, or if he would be part
of the Bill Parcells' led turnaround.
To his credit, Hill relied
on the winning formula of hard work and faith to bounce back strong.
Through 12 games Hill once
again stands third on the team in tackles with 55 (45 solo) and has two picks
to his credit, his latest coming against the Rams' Marc Bulger which set up a
field goal in a 16-12 Dolphin win. He has also seen snaps on kick coverage
teams in an effort to shore up the shaky unit.
What's most remarkable about
his performance is that Hill is not yet fully recovered from the ACL injury. General
Manager Jeff Ireland has taken notice and is impressed by Hill's performance
and toughness, and includes him as one of the new regime's guys.
"We try to get 'make up'
players", said Ireland.
"We want smart, tough, and discipline players. We want players with intangibles
like character, integrity, toughness, intelligence, work ethic, accountability,
dependability, and, most importantly, passion. The players that are still here,
they have the 'make up'. They're good players and they have a lot of pride;
guys like Channing Crowder and Renaldo Hill. I can't say enough about what
they've been able to do to help this program turn around."
I visited briefly with Hill
at the Dolphins Training Facility in Davie
to discuss his recovery from the knee injury, and to find out which wide
receiver is the toughest for him to cover.
On if he feels 100%
recovered from his injury
I don't know. Each week I
feel like I'm getting better, getting stronger. I don't know when I can say
'I'm fully back'. I just want to go out there and help the team as best as I
can; try go to out there and make some plays, get people lined up, and just be
a quarterback back there.
On how he's been able to
play at a high level this quickly
Training style, hard work,
coaches. I knew coming back it was important for me to focus on strengthening
myself and doing all the hard work that I needed to do. This team wasn't going
to wait. I wanted be a huge part of this; this new regime, with the new
coaching staff and the new players we have in there. I wanted to be a part of
it, so I just had to do whatever I could possibly to get back with the team.
On if he had any doubts
that he could come back fully from the injury
I never doubted. I spent a
lot of time this offseason talking to my pastor. That was one of the things
that I prayed for, to make my knee stronger than even what it was before (the
injury). We prayed about that. I put everything in His hands. A lot of stuff I
couldn't control. The only things I could control was the way I worked to
strengthen my knee and the progress I was (making) on the football field.
Everything else I was going to leave up to Him. Just hard work and keeping
faith. I'm just glad I'm here to be able to help contribute and help my team in
any way possible.
On if the recovery is
worse than the surgery
I agree. You're going to
have your good days and bad days. I definitely thank the training staff. They
put up with me a lot. You have those days where you just can't feel like you
can muster anything up, but they do a good job of pushing you. They know what
it takes to help you get back. I like to thank guys like Ben Westby (Assistant
Athletic Trainer/Director of Rehabilitation) and those guys for pushing me
every day. We had our battles, but I'm very thankful for everything they put me
On who is the toughest player
has covered thus far
Randy Moss. He creates so
many problems with his size, his height, his speed. He does a good job of kind
of luring you to sleep, thinking he's not going to "go" (run deep) and then he
can hit another gear in just the matter of a second. You always have to be
cautious of where he's at and what he's doing. He's definitely a guy who can
make a play any time and change the outcome of a game any time.