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2020 South Side Questions: What Would The Ripple Effects Be If Mike Hilton Misses Time?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.

Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.

As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion

Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: How big of a ripple effect would there be in light of Devin Bush’s injury if Mike Hilton misses time?

Mike Hilton sat out of practice yesterday, and it’s not clear if he will practice today. It’s fair to say that his status for the next game at this time is in question. And that makes for an interesting situation regarding the Steelers’ options for accommodating for the loss of Devin Bush, their every-down linebacker.

Obviously, if Hilton does not play, it would move Cameron Sutton up to the nickel role, where he started last season when Hilton missed time. But with Bush gone, the team is likely to play a lot more dime snaps (they’ve already been playing a good amount), so what does the plan become then?

Presumably, the most logical dime defenders would be Marcus Allen, who is technically now considered a linebacker for the team, and perhaps Sean Davis, who was a four-year starter in the secondary. Justin Layne did get on the field for a few snaps as well on Sunday after Hilton’s injury.

Hilton has been everywhere for the Steelers this year. He has two of their nine takeaways, three sacks, five quarterback hits, and five tackles for loss among his 29 total tackles. While Sutton is capable of filling in the role (and he got himself an interception in the team’s last game himself), it does change the nickel defense a bit, and makes it much more complicated to play dime.

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