If you follow Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Zach Banner on Twitter, you know that he occasionally takes questions from followers in rapid-fire “Ask Me Anything” sessions, as he did on Tuesday while spending 12 minutes “in the ice bath.”
Some of the questions were predictable. For example, “How’s the knee feeling?”—a reference to the fact that Banner is working to come back from a torn ACL suffered last September.
Others were food-oriented: “Ice cream or popsicles?”
But former Steelers teammate Mike Hilton took the opportunity to jump in to Banner’s AMA and playfully ask: “You gonna let me get a sack?”
You gonna let me get a sack?😂😬 https://t.co/PmpJi01i12
— Mike Hilton (@MikeHilton_28) April 27, 2021
Hilton recently signed a four-year contract with the rival Cincinnati Bengals in free agency, meaning that he will get a chance to go against the Steelers twice a year for the forseeable future.
Banner offered a quick response, referencing an old Geico insurance commercial that recently started re-airing, one that features NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo, who was famous for rejecting opponents’ shots.
— Zach Banner (@ZBNFL) April 27, 2021
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Of course, it’s very realistic that Hilton, a slot cornerback, will find himself face-to-face with Banner while attempting to sack Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. During the 59 games he played for the Steelers, Hilton demonstrated a knack for blitzing from the slot, which explains why he was able to register 9.5 sacks in four years.
Hilton will no doubt fill a similar role for the Bengals, who for years have lacked quality at slot cornerback, which explains why Cincinnati pressed to sign him, even though the Steelers made it a priority to try to keep him.
Mike Hilton is Coming Off Arguably His Best Season
One of the biggest reasons that the Steelers hoped to retain Hilton in free agency is that he has demonstrated a knack for making impact plays. In 2020 he started six of the 12 games in which he appeared (missing time with a shoulder injury) and contributed 51 total tackles, along with three interceptions, three sacks, seven passes defensed, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, eight tackles for loss and five quarterback hits.
Moreover, he won AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Week 16 win over the Indianapolis Colts, the second time in his career he has won that award.
The Steelers Will Replace Mike Hilton with…?
At the moment, the Steelers don’t have a ready replacement for Hilton. Recently-resigned veteran Cam Sutton is versatile enough to replace Hilton in the slot, but the Steelers are going to give Sutton first crack at winning the starting right cornerback job, which was vacated by Steven Nelson, who was released in a cost-cutting move.
Moreover, Hilton filled a role that the Steelers previously tried to fill with a failed second-round draft pick, that being Senquez Golson, who was a teammate of Hilton’s at the University of Mississippi. The Steelers selected Golson in the 2015 NFL Draft (No. 56 overall), but thanks to a succession of injuries, he never played a down for the Steelers, making him one of the biggest draft busts in franchise history.
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