Jason Hill says he did all he could.
But he says the reality is he learned something this off-season – that there's something about the heat and humidity of Florida that just can't be replicated on the West Coast no matter how yard you try.
Hill, entering his first season starting at wide receiver for the Jaguars opposite Mike Thomas, said on Wednesday the process of adapting to the summer late-July/August conditions contributed to what he said was a "sluggish" start early in Jaguars 2011 Training Camp.
"I think the weather got to me a little bit," Hill said Wednesday between a pair of Jaguars 2011 Training Camp practices. "It was a little tough to adjust to, but I think I'm starting to get my legs.
"We have a little less than a month to go with camp stuff, so I think by the time the regular season starts I'll be rolling."
Hill, a fifth-year NFL veteran acquired by the Jaguars off waivers from San Francisco last season, caught 11 passes for 248 yards and a touchdown for the Jaguars last season. It was comparatively limited action, but the team liked enough of what it saw to pencil him in as the starter.
He talked early in camp of the opportunity at hand, but said he struggled at times in camp's opening weeks.
That drew skepticism from training camp observers, but Hill said adjusting to the climate hurt him early. He said he believes he is past that now.
"The heat and humidity killed me, but I'm getting it together, slowly but surely," he said.
Hill, who played collegiately at California, spent a week in Jacksonville during the lockout working with Jaguars quarterback David Garrard. But he said he mostly worked at Cal, and he said while the workouts with players such as Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew were intense, in retrospect they didn't prepare him for the heat of Northeast Florida.
"I've talked to all the West Coast guys," he said. "They all went through it, too, so I'm not alone in that. I trained my butt off this summer and did all I could, but you can't prepare for this. We were getting it in. We were working hard, but this is something you can't beat."
Hill said he has begun to improve in recent days. He caught three passes for 37 yards in early playing time in the preseason-opening loss to New England, then followed that with several productive practices this week.
"I've been getting better every day," Hill said. "I don't even think it's a week-to-week thing. It's a day-to-day thing. I'm getting my legs back, talking to coaches, telling them how I'm feeling. Things are looking good."
With the Jaguars preparing for their second preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons Friday, Hill said what he wants from that game is self-explanatory.
"Everything," he said. "I want to block these guys hard. I want to run my routes hard, and make Dave and (rookie quarterback) Blaine (Gabbert) believe in me, where they can throw me the ball in triple coverage. I have to make those guys believe."
Hill, who played three and a half seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, also on Wednesday spoke of the potential of Gabbert, the No. 10 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft.
"He's tough," he said. "He's going to be good, and he's going to make the plays."
Hill said while Gabbert's ability as a passer is impressive, he has been as impressed with Gabbert's intangibles off the field.
"We had a team-bonding moment," Hill said. "Blaine was in my group, and he talked about his upbringing and how he is, his friends back home and stuff. (Aaron) Kampman was in the group, too, and we talked – you just felt something about him.
"There's something about him that being in San Francisco I didn't have. David shows it from time to time, but Blaine, in that one instance, he showed it. It showed to me that he's going to be something. It wasn't even what he said. It was how he said it."