Bengals' Jeremy Hill: Past two seasons 'not who I am as a player'

CINCINNATI -- Bengals running back Jeremy Hill has heard the numerous reports about the possibility of his team taking another running back high in the 2017 NFL draft.

He doesn't care. Hill actually welcomes the competition.

"That's why you come to the NFL. It's the best in the world who do this. You can't ever be scared of competition," Hill said Monday. "It's something I've done my whole life. I've competed, and I don't plan on stopping that anytime soon. I really could care less."

Hill is entering the final season of his rookie contract. As the Bengals start to look ahead to the 2017 season, Hill has done a lot of looking back, particularly at how the past two years have gone.

"These last two seasons I've had, it's not me. It's not who I am as a player. I've got to respond. That's what great players do," Hill said. "I consider myself a great player, so I've just got to respond. That's the way I started this offseason, and it's just going to build up to training camp."

Hill rushed for 1,124 yards in his rookie season, averaging 5.1 yards-per-carry. But his numbers have dipped in the past two years. He has not averaged more than 4 yards-per-carry since that season.

The 2016 season didn't start or end well for Hill. His fumble in the 2015 AFC wild-card game, played in January of 2016, sparked a series of events that led to a late Steelers comeback. Hill was injured in Week 4 of the 2016 season after a Dolphins defensive tackle fell on him, and finally missed the first game of his career after spraining his ACL late in the year.

Hill doesn't like to make injury excuses. He admitted he was 'banged up' in 2016 but said that's not an excuse or reason as to why the past two seasons haven't gone as he hoped.

"I don't know. I've been searching for that answer myself," he said. "For me, it's just getting that trust with the offensive line and really understanding what's going on and just breaking more tackles and having more yards after contact. That's something I can control. That's something I want to really work on, something I have been working on, something I can't show right now, but it'll happen on Sundays."

Hill took an optimistic tone as he looked forward to 2017. He said the knee has healed and feels 100 percent, and he thinks he's in the best shape of his career.

"It's probably my greatest offseason I've had. I'm just trying to continue that. It's good to be back with the guys. It's going to be a good season," he said.