There has been talk during the offseason concerning the Arizona Cardinals cornerback room and if the team could add another body to the group.
Seven-year veteran Antonio Hamilton doesn’t listen to the outside noise surrounding the cornerback position.
“I don’t listen to none of that stuff,” Hamilton said. “We have the ultimate faith and trust in our group of guys that we have. We’ve been making plays in training camp. No busted coverages or anything like that. We’ve been consistent and continue to grow with each other. I don’t know if people want a big name to hang their hat on, but we believe in the guys we have here.”
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury has acknowledged throughout the summer that the cornerback group could use reinforcements. Kingsbury has also remained honest about cornerback Marco Wilson as he said in late July that the “jury’s still out” on the second-year defender.
Nothing is a given in the cornerback unit.
This offseason, Arizona re-signed Hamilton, who played in 17 games and posted 38 tackles and four passes defensed last season. The veteran also played 47% of snaps on special teams. He’s entering his seventh season in the league and it’s likely, barring a free-agent addition, that Hamilton will take over the third cornerback spot.
Hamilton believes that his work from last season speaks for itself.
“I believe and just check the film for yourself and it shows that I stepped up in a big way each and every opportunity I got last year,” Hamilton said. “I’m just trying to further that and be consistent.”
Hamilton was listed as the No. 1 cornerback on the depth chart for the preseason opener last week. While it’s likely that the No. 1 placing for Hamilton won’t be the case in the regular season, it’s clear that he’s thought of highly by the Cardinals.
However, Hamilton has gone through trials and tribulations during his career. He entered the NFL with the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2016. Before his career-high 29% of snaps on defense last year, his previous high on defense was 13% with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020.
Scroll to Continue
The 29-year-old was signed to the Cardinals practice squad last September after he was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the cutdown to 53 players.
It hasn’t been easy for Hamilton to get to where he is now, but he’s ready for an even bigger opportunity in 2022.
“It’s been extremely tough. I was a walk-on in college . . . I’ve been the last corner on the depth chart. So I’ve always had to fight my way all the way up. I never have had any handouts . . . I’ve earned it through and through. And I’m going to continue to do it until I’m able to take care of my family in a way — I really want to retire my mom. I’ve been in the league for seven years and I haven’t gotten that opportunity yet. I’m just gonna keep fighting,” Hamilton said.
The 24-year-old Byron Murphy Jr. and 22-year-old Wilson were the team’s starters last season. Wilson has had ups and downs during training camp.
Hamilton doesn’t mind competing and helping the youth at the same time.
“I mentor everybody,” Hamilton said. “I’ve been in this league for a while. I try to do my best to help each and every person out there on that field. I’ve seen a lot of things and I just tried to share my wisdom with those guys and just be as great of a teammate as I possibly can.”
Unlike last season, Hamilton has the benefit of being with the Cardinals at the start of training camp.
He said, “Having that advantage of learning the playbook from Day 1 all the way through training camp gives me an upper hand. (It’s) a great opportunity to go out there and just showcase my skill and show how consistent I am.”
Out of the entire roster, cornerback is one of the most likely positions to add insurance and depth. Arizona could bring back former starter Robert Alford, who is still a free agent. They also worked out former first-round pick Deandre Baker last week.
But for now, Hamilton will get to compete with Murphy, Wilson, Josh Jackson, rookie Christian Matthew, Jace Whittaker and Cortez Davis.
“(The Cardinals) know what I can do when it comes to special teams and they also see and know what I can do on defense as well,” Hamilton said.