Steelers Nation Unite

Hilton opens up to Steelers fans

Steelers fans got a treat following practice on Wednesday when Mike Hilton joined the Steelers Nation Unite Huddle to talk football with them and take their questions.

The energetic Hilton seemed to have as much fun as the fans, answering an array of questions both football-related and some off the field things.

One of the questions that made Hilton stop and think was which he likes better, an interception or a sack.

"Just being a defensive back, it's getting our hands on that ball," said Hilton after a minute. "That is what everybody wants to see us do. When you have a chance to make a play and get an interception, it's a great opportunity. I know a lot of people want to see some defensive players with the ball in their hand in space. I would say getting that interception."

But, when asked what his favorite memory of his career has been to date, he couldn't help but going the sack route.

"My three-sack game against Houston on Christmas Day," said Hilton, recalling the win in 2017. "That was a big moment. We were playing on Christmas. I was able to tie a record with some guys like Troy Polamalu (and Carnell Lake). For my short career, that would be my biggest memory."

Hilton is hoping to bring more of that aggressive play to the defense in 2020, something that he said his role in the defense allows.

"The defense is finding ways to let me be aggressive and go make plays in the backfield, but also making plays in man coverage," said Hilton. "If I am comfortable, it just boosts my confidence and lets me be in the right place to make plays whenever I have the opportunity."

One thing Hilton will miss early on this season, when fans won't be in the seats, is the energy they bring when those big plays do happen.

"I will be honest. For me, when we go out there Week 1, not seeing any fans, not hearing anybody, it's going to be different," said Hilton. "We still have a job to do. There is still a Super Bowl to get at the end of this run. We are one of 32 teams dealing with this. Whoever can keep their focus and lock in has a pretty good chance of winning."

Before wrapping up the call, Hilton gave his take on the top rookies he has seen in camp so far, and it came as no surprise it was the team's top two picks, receiver Chase Claypool and linebacker Alex Highsmith.

"I believe Chase is going to get some playing time," said Hilton. "He is a freakish dude to be that big and that athletic. The way he is able to use his body to go up and make some great plays when the ball is in the air. I feel like the offense is going to have fun with that new toy.

"For a linebacker, watching (Alex's) pass rushing as a rookie is pretty impressive. You wouldn't expect a rookie to have a lot of moves in their resume. When he goes out there and gets on the offensive tackles, he is athletic, bends well and makes plays."