JACKSONVILLE – His wait appears over, and that's good for the Jaguars' defense.
"It means a lot," Hamilton said as the AFC South-leading Jaguars (5-2) prepared to play the Steelers (4-2) at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pa., Sunday at 1 p.m. "I've been waiting for this moment for a while and I'm just excited to see what I do out there.
"It has been a long time, so I'm trying to get in the groove of things and show my best self."
Hamilton, a fourth-year veteran, spent the first seven 2023 regular-season games on injured reserve with a back issue. He practiced full last week and practiced full all three days list week.
"He's trending well," Head Coach Doug Pederson said.
Hamilton said he practiced well this week, adding that he doesn't know how much "rust" to expect Sunday or his projected playing time.
"I'll be out there playing, that's all I know," he said. "I put a lot of work in during this time, so I'm really hoping I'm really close. I don't think I fell off that much during the time and I've been working extremely hard to stay as close as possible.
"According to practice, I feel like I'm pretty close."
Pederson on Friday also was asked about the effect of "bulletin-board" material on a game. Steelers wide receiver George Pickens on Thursday was quoted as saying the Jaguars "have kind of a hope defense."
"I've seen it, but I haven't heard it from the team," Pederson said. "I'm sure they've seen it. You still have to go play, bottom line. I try to coach our guys and I know [Steelers Head] Coach [Mike] Tomlin does the same thing. You have to coach your guys not to put information like that out there and just keep things to yourself. At the end of the day, you still have to go play and make plays and execute. That's what it comes down to."
Added Pederson, "I think during the week it can spur some motivation and maybe early in a football game. I think once you kick the ball off and you play, it's a ballgame and the guys are playing hard. You don't ever want to give too much information for one team, I do think it can probably maybe motivate a little bit during the week."
- Jaguars wide receiver Zay Jones was ruled out for Sunday on Friday's final injury report of the week after missing practice all three days this week with a knee injury. "We'll see where he's at after [next week's Week 9 bye]," Pederson said. The following Jaguars players were listed as questionable entering the weekend: Cornerback Tyson Campbell (hamstring), safety Andre Cisco (hamstring), quarterback Trevor Lawrence (knee), left guard Walker Little (knee) and guard Brandon Scherff (ankle). Campbell missed last Thursday's victory over the New Orleans Saints, with Cisco leaving that game with the injury. Lawrence and Scherff played through their injuries in that game, with Little missing the last two games. Cornerback Gregory Junior (hamstring) was ruled out Friday after having his window to return from injury reserve early opened early this week. The Jaguars have their bye week next week with a home game against the San Francisco 49ers scheduled the following Sunday. "I don't want to risk a setback with anybody, but having time next week to fully rest some of these guys next week can play into that," Pederson said. "If they don't play this week, then obviously that's two more weeks, three if you think about the week of San Francisco before you play a game again."