While the Pittsburgh Steelers are waiting on safety Morgan Burnett to go through a full practice, it looks as though they will be getting back one defensive back this week in slot cornerback Mike Hilton. The second-year player missed the team’s last game due to an elbow injury, but he was a full participant in practice yesterday.
He told reporters at the start of the week that the pain had mostly subsided, but he was still dealing with some issues, including build-up of fluid that limited range of motion. After practice Wednesday, however, he said that he was “absolutely” a “full go” for Sunday. “I feel good”, he said. “I’m ready to go”.
Former third-round draft pick Cameron Sutton was Hilton’s replacement last week, but he struggled, and has struggled for the most part so far this season when he has been asked to play, so Hilton’s return should certainly be welcome.
Hilton has been practicing with a brace of some kind over his elbow and he said that he would likely play with it through Sunday’s game, but that he believed he would be able to be free of it the following week.
On the injury, which he is still working his way through, he said, “it’s not going to hold me back. I’m still going to be myself. I’m going to be aggressive, physical. I’m going to use my hands like I want to. I feel like I’ll be back to myself”.
As we have pointed out this week, Hilton and Joe Haden have been pretty much the only defensive backs on the Steelers’ roster that have shown an adequate ability to make plays on the football, particularly at the catch point. Sutton, Coty Sensabaugh, and Artie Burns have all struggled in this department.
In three games, he has recorded 11 tackles with three passes defensed and an interception, along with a fumble recovery, though the fumble recovery and interception were more products of being in the right place at the right time.
In truth, even Hilton has had his moments in which he struggled, giving up some plays—one to Tyreek Hill—and missing tackles. He has a missed tackle before Burns forced a fumble that he recovered.
But he has still been the Steelers’ best and most consistent defensive back on the year, so they need him back, sooner rather than later. And fortunately, it sounds as though he will only miss one game with his elbow injury.