It’s hard to make much noise when you’re an undrafted rookie who is signed to a team’s practice squad in December. Still, Mike Hilton showed the Pittsburgh Steelers enough in 2016 to earns a futures deal, and that was all he needed, that foot in the door, to push his way through and to become the player we know him to be today.
It was all the way back during OTAs in 2017 that we started to hear reporters and players talk about Hilton and how he was around the ball a lot, about his potential to be a dark horse. Of course, he went on to have a great preseason and won the starting nickel job, a role he has held on to since.
He was a player that fans loved to watch in training camp back in 2017 when he was first making an impact, a guy that seemingly nobody knew who was just making plays and looking like a diamond in the rough.
Without fan attendance at training camp last year, people have been curious about what the players are seeing. On Wednesday, Hilton was on Steelers Nation Unite, and he was asked about a young player who was under the radar.
“I would say Cam Sutton. He does so much for us in the defense”, he said, while acknowledging that Sutton isn’t necessarily young, going into his fourth season and with over 600 defensive snaps played during his career, averaging about 250 over the last two.
“Especially on the back end, he glues us together”, he continued. “We know how important he is in our system. You can see it every day in the way he practices, the energy he brings. He’s excited about what he does and we’re excited to have him back there with us”.
Defensive coordinator Keith Butler implied that the Steelers were going to use more dime defense this year, and said that Sutton was going to be playing quite a bit for them in 2020. Both cornerbacks are headed for unrestricted free agency after this season, however, so that is something the Steelers need to be conscious of.
Sutton has recorded 43 tackles with two for loss over the course of his career, with one sack, one forced fumble, and two interceptions, the second of which came last season as the final nail in the coffin for the Los Angeles Chargers in Week Six. He also has nine passes defensed, five of which came last year.
This season, while he will be in that dime role, he will also be the first cornerback off the bench no matter how goes down, and the odds heavily favor his having the chance to start at least one game. Hilton missed a game in 2018. Steven Nelson missed a game last year. Joe Haden has missed six in his three years in Pittsburgh, though none last year (he did miss the end of that Chargers game, which is why Sutton was in the game to make that game-sealing pick).