That changed Tuesday afternoon when their NFL teams met in a joint practice adjacent to Paul Brown Stadium.
Two of the SEC’s most dynamic offensive playmakers two years ago, the LSU products took the NFL by storm as rookies in 2014. The New York Giants star Beckham was named the Offensive Rookie of the Year after being a weekly staple on highlight shows. Hill, one of the Cincinnati Bengals' rising stars, had his own strong rookie campaign, rushing for 1,124 yards.
During a media availability session Tuesday, Hill said Beckham’s success was inspirational.
“All of us are very competitive,” Hill said of the NFL’s young LSU contingent, “especially when we play against each other. It’s really bragging rights for the whole year. We definitely lift each other’s games up.”
Hill admitted there won’t be much to brag about over this week’s practices, but he’s glad to welcome his close friend to his current home, nonetheless.
The Bengals’ back formally welcomed Beckham to town Monday night when he took the Giants receiver to visit another one of their ex-college teammates, James Wright. Another rookie last year, the seventh-rounder Wright caught five passes for the Bengals before being sidelined with a knee injury. Just before the start of training camp, the Bengals placed Wright on the injured reserve because the knee hadn’t healed the way they had hoped.
Wright recently had surgery and as a result hasn’t been in the best of spirits lately.
“It just kind of lifted Jimmy up a little bit and put a smile on his face,” Hill said of Beckham’s visit.
Cincinnati had been expected to use Wright as potentially the fourth receiver in its pass-catching rotation this season. He was expected to have much greater production than the year before.
After their strong rookie seasons, Hill and Beckham have built up high expectations.
“’Pressure’ is definitely a word that none of us really talks about because it’s just the game we know and love, a game we’ve been playing since we were 6 or 7 years old,” Hill said. “We just have to go out there and do what our coaches ask us to do and have fun. That’s what separates us from a lot of other people.”