Pittsburgh Steelers third-round cornerback Cameron Sutton came to the team billed as a defensive back who enters the league already with a strong head for the game, possessing the mental framework to be able to understand and process entire defensive schemes and the role of each player within it relative to their position and to those around him.
It seems so far that they believe he has come as advertised. If that is indeed the case, it should only accelerate his ability to get on the field early on in his rookie season to contribute on the defensive side of the ball, where he could likely scoop up a role as the nickel defender in the slot.
“That makes the game easier for you”, he told reporters yesterday about the ability to understand an entire defensive scheme. “When we’re all tied to a string out there on the field, all 11 guys, you’re able to put guys in different situations to make plays as well as help yourself out”.
“You knowing the calls, what to expect out there on the field, studying the film, knowing what the offense is going to give you, it just makes the game slow down for you”, he went on. “I started a little bit in high school”, he said about his interest in film study, though “not as much in-depth as I am now”.
“At Tennessee, my position coach at the time, Willie Martinez, he really helped me establish that and really got me into my preparation like that”, Sutton told reporters. “Ever since then it’s been a constant continuation with that”, and no doubt something that he will continue to embrace in Pittsburgh.
Reporters tested his quick defensive wit, asking him to discuss a hypothetical play, a toss sweep, and he began detailing the assignments of the back-side defensive end, followed by the back-side cornerback, the latter of which he described as “flowing over the top. You’re looking for any leakage coming back, cutbacks or boots out of the toss, anything like that. And then just find the ball, get to the ball”.
One thing that he certainly didn’t seem to be daunted by was the day-one workload on the first day of rookie minicamp. “We installed a little bit”, he told reporters. “We will probably install more the rest of the weekend. It’s just retention. It’s not a lot that you can’t handle it. It’s not putting a lot of pressure on guys. It’s really simple for us for the most part. Making sure you have a good understanding of what you are doing on the field, and putting it to work when you are out there”.
Sutton talked about the importance of “having confidence in yourself to go out there, just having that whole mentality and approach that every time you step on the field, it’s not arrogance or anything like that, but you have the mentality that you are the best guy on the field”. He said, “if that is not your mentality, you are going to be in trouble out there. Just having that confidence, trusting my game and instincts, knowing the calls, and then making plays on the ball”.