It's easy for Cobi Hamilton to get lost in the mix. When it comes to Steelers' pass catchers, he's one of the last names mentioned. That's what happens when you share a roster with Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates and Eli Rogers.
But a recent rash of injuries saw the Steelers promote Hamilton from the practice squad, and in two games he has five catches for 72 yards and a touchdown.
A 2013 sixth-round pick of the Bengals, Hamilton's path to Pittsburgh's 53-man roster is anything but conventional. He spent the '13 season on Cincy's practice squad, split time between Cincy and Philly's practice squads in 2014 before earning a roster spot in a Bengals' playoff game, was out of football entirely in 2015, and was in Carolina's training camp this summer before the Steelers signed him in early August.
"I just needed somebody to give me a chance," Hamilton said recently, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Joe Rutter. "Someone to let me make my mistakes and let me just play ball at the same time. They gave me every opportunity to do so, and I'm trying to take full advantage of it."
Hamilton arrived in the NFL after hauling in 90 passes for 1,335 yards and five touchdowns during his senior year at Arkansas. He grew up in the small town of Nash, Texas, and when he was short on money during college, his family would sell a cow.
Yes, you read that right. And Hamilton repaid that debt after he received his $94,000 signing bonus from the Bengals following the '13 draft.
"He took every single dollar of that bonus and, when people were buying cars, he replaced every cow his mom and dad sold to help him in college," Hamilton's agent, J.R. Carroll, told Rutter. "The only thing Cobi did was bought back his horse that he had sold in high school for $300."
Hamilton worked on the family farm when he was out of football in 2015, and it's where Carroll found him in early August.
"He's as country as country can be," Carroll said. "When he signed with Pittsburgh, I checked in with him on that Friday night. He had found a cow sale and was watching cows get sold. If you check his Instagram page, it's all football, horses and cows."
Meanwhile, the Steelers like Hamilton's size (he's 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds), athleticism and willingness to block.
"He's a hungry guy that wants to contribute and be a complete football player," offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. "For our team, with how we're capable of running the football, that means doing the dirty work of blocking, and that is what has impressed everybody."