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Antonio Hamilton has wanted to play for the Chiefs for a long time

The defensive player with some cornerback upside and a special-teams floor started his career in Oakland but will now have an opportunity in Kansas City.

NFL: New York Giants at Chicago Bears Kena Krutsinger-USA TODAY Sports

Cornerback Antonio Hamilton came to an agreement with the Kansas City Chiefs on March 20, a few months after a day in which he did something he hadn’t done in several years — play a full regular-season game on defense.

Hamilton started two games for the New York Giants last season — the first and the last. In the latter, he played all 74 defensive snaps, recording four pass breakups.

“I was reminded in myself in who I am and the type of player that I am,” Hamilton said during a conference call last week. “When you give me an opportunity to actually go out there and play full, no subbing and rotating guys, you just give me a chance to lock into the game, that’s what I can do for you no matter who the opponent is or what team or player it is. I can do that because that’s the type of player that I am.”

Hamilton nearly recorded his first career interception on a play in which he was smart to push wide receiver Deontay Burnett inside — where he had safety help. Hamilton then threw his hands up to catch the football, but it slipped from his grasp.

“You got to catch it,” he said. “The ball’s in your fingers, no matter the conditions. You just got to make that play. And you make the play, we’d be having a different conversation. I’m going to get an opportunity — on the next one, I make sure I’ll catch it.”

At minimum, what the Chiefs acquired in Hamilton is a special teams ace. While Hamilton has played 200 defensive snaps in his four-year career, he has 738 special-teams snaps. For the Chiefs, he profiles as a potential special-teams gunner.

The 27-year-old was on the field for 81% of the New York Giants’ special-teams snaps in 2019. Hamilton said he has yet to have a conversation with coordinator Dave Toub about his role in Kansas City but expects that to happen in the coming months ahead of training camp.

Hamilton also has experience as a returner from his time at South Carolina State, where he led the nation in kick-return yardage and finished his senior season with 503 kick-return yards (23 yards per return) and one touchdown, 114 punt-return yards (14 yards per return) and one touchdown — along with 32 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss as a defensive back.

His last pick came in college in 2015.

Before signing with the Chiefs, Hamilton spoke to his college and now-pro teammate, Alex Brown, whom he called his “little brother.” Their conversation put him in a good headspace when it came to learning the Steve Spagnuolo playbook.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

“I’ve talked to him about certain things, and he’s been putting me in the loop,” said Hamilton. “I’ve also talked to the coaches and getting different perspectives, but when it all boils down, it’s football. Nothing about football has changed over the years, just terminology. It’s not about learning the full playbook because the playbook is just words. The style of ball that I see them play is a lot of bump and run like I do. I think once I get the terminology down, the playbook isn’t something that is going to be an issue.”

If he has any questions, Hamilton has a new leader to whom he can turn for extra help: safety Tyrann Mathieu.

“Everybody knows about the Honey Badger,” said Hamilton. “He’s just a dog. He’s a hard-working guy. I’ve watched all of his highlights throughout my college career... he’s just a very instinctive player, and I think that’s what I am, too. Extremely athletic. He’s just an all-around — God, he’s a stud.”

Hamilton said he wants to be an “all-out starter.” But more than anything, he desires to show the staff and fans that he is a hard-working player.

Hamilton is familiar with Arrowhead Stadium, as he started his career as an undrafted free agent in Oakland in 2016. He explained that the crowd noise always stuck with him, and he hoped that one day, he would have a chance to play with the Chiefs.

NFL: AUG 31 Preseason - Seahawks at Raiders Photo by Stephen Hopson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“If you haven’t just been around that stadium when the fans start cheering, after they say ‘the Home of the,’ and they say the ‘Chiefs,’ my ears were about to pop on the sideline. I had never experience that before until I actually was going to Arrowhead Stadium, so I was like, ‘Man, that’s crazy.’ It’s got to be crazier to even be on that team and hear them cheer like that for you.

“It will be a great opportunity to play in front of those guys, so I’m excited for it.”

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