Kingsbury: Antonio Hamilton is Cardinals’ No. 2 cornerback ‘as of now’
Arizona Cardinals cornerback Antonio Hamilton is no stranger to being doubted.
As of the Friday before his team’s second preseason game, his coaching staff isn’t doing much doubting.
“Antonio Hamilton’s been, really, I would say a nice surprise. But we knew what type of competitor he was,” Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “I think he’s continued to ascend and really taken over that No. 2 spot, as of now.
“Physical, tough, edgy, every day has a chip on his shoulder. I really like what we’ve seen of him.”
Hamilton’s ascent comes after Kingsbury put pressure on second-year corner Marco Wilson, who played over Hamilton as a rookie last year.
After Hamilton walked on at South Carolina State and went undrafted in 2016, the 29-year-old defensive back has fought for his spot on each of the five NFL teams he’s played on in his seven-year career.
That includes the Cardinals signing him to the practice squad a week before the start of last season after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released him as part of the team’s final roster cuts.
“Almost every year I’ve been in the league, I’ve been the last corner on the depth chart so I’ve always had to fight my way all the way up,” Hamilton said on Tuesday. “I never had any handouts (or had) any gimmies.”
Playing in 17 games (two starts) in Arizona last year, Hamilton posted 38 tackles (31 solo) to go along with one tackle for loss, four passes defended and one forced fumble while playing 312 snaps (29%) on defense and 208 (47%) on special teams.
But with the lack of depth in the Cardinals’ cornerbacks room heading into this season, Hamilton appears to be on the higher end of the depth chart.
Hamilton was featured Thursday on Peter Schrager’s Take A Chance On Me Team during NFL Networks’s Good Morning Football.
"I've always had to fight my way all the way up. I never had any handouts."
— Good Morning Football (@gmfb) August 18, 2022
If Hamilton is able to make the most of the opportunity presented to him by Kingsbury and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, perhaps it could also lead to the largest contract of his NFL career.
And should the dollars come, the former walk-on and undrafted pro will have completed a dream of his: to make enough money so that his mom can retire.
“Everything I’ve got in this league, 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 that I want to take care of (them). I’ve been in the league and I still haven’t gotten that opportunity yet,” he said.