Holton Hill was officially able to return to the Vikings roster, and the second-year cornerback said he is looking forward to rebuilding trust in the organization following a pair of offseason suspensions.
Hill, who was first tagged with a four-game suspension on April 5 for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, received another four-game ban on July 23 for a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He was not allowed in the Vikings’ building during the PED suspension, but Hill said Monday he stayed in the Twin Cities during that time, working out in the area until he was allowed to be in the building for workouts and team meetings during his second suspension.
“I feel like it’s just taking strides, earning everyone’s trust back — not just coaches,” he said. “It starts with me. I’m ready to take on that role, and I’m ready to get to it.”
Hill’s return comes at a point where the Vikings could make use of their additional defensive back depth; cornerback Xavier Rhodes said, “Right now, I’m hurting my team,” after his seventh penalty of the season last Thursday night against Washington, and the Vikings have used Mike Hughes in relief of both Rhodes and Trae Waynes this season.
Adding Hill to the mix could give the Vikings four experienced options for their two outside cornerback spots, with Hughes — who got the first snaps at nickel corner last Thursday — also able to play in place of Mackensie Alexander in the slot.
The Vikings have not made an official move to put Hill back on their 53-man roster; they could wait to do so until Wednesday, a day after the NFL trade deadline and in time for their first practice of the week. When they do put him back on the roster, Hill said, he will do whatever is asked of him.
“From special teams to playing on the defensive side, whatever the team needs me to do, I’m willing to take that on,” he said.
The Vikings gave Hill $75,000 in guaranteed money when they signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2018, which was more than they had given to any undrafted free agent in the Mike Zimmer era. He started three games a year ago and played in all 16, looking like he could be a valuable contributor as he returned for his second season with the Vikings.
His two suspensions, though, earned him a trip to the bottom of the team’s depth chart in training camp, as coach Mike Zimmer made no secret of his ire with Hill.
Still, at the end of training camp, Zimmer held out hope the 22-year-old could turn things around once he came back from his suspension.
“We obviously knew this could happen with Holton,” Zimmer told the Star Tribune in August. “I’m very disappointed, because I felt like we were doing everything we could possibly do to help him. To put him in the right situations. To get him any kind of help he needed. And, honestly, he’s not a bad kid. He’s really not a bad kid. He’s not a street guy or a gang guy or anything like that. He’s a good kid. And I think he could have a really good future if he ends up getting to play.”
Hill would not discuss the reasons for his substance abuse suspension, and offered few specifics about what he meant when he said he’d taken time to “work on myself mentally” during his suspension.
“I had time to evaluate some decisions I made in the past,” he said. “It was learning how to make wiser decisions.”