2017 South Side Questions: Will Cameron Sutton Play On Defense This Season?

The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.

Question: Will Cameron Sutton play on defense at some point this season?

This is one of those questions to which we simply do not have an answer. But I also think it’s a question that a lot of people are asking right now, some of whom would actually like to see it happen. Now that rookie cornerback Cameron Sutton is back on the 53-man roster, will he have an opportunity to play on defense this year?

There is not an immediate opening for him to do so, of course. With Artie Burns starting on the right side and Coty Sensabaugh filling in for Joe Haden until he returns, the nickel and dime roles have been consistently occupied this season by Mike Hilton and William Gay, respectively, neither of whom has clearly done anything deserving of losing their role.

Head Coach Mike Tomlin tried to hedge optimism about Sutton’s activation during his press conference yesterday, basically saying that just because he’s on the roster doesn’t mean he’s going to dress. And if he does dress, he may, at best, be limited to some reps as a gunner on punt coverage or a kickoff coverage unit here and there.

Or, over time, they could decide that they want to see him get a couple of reps on defense. They have made changes before, after all. J.J. Wilcox was the top backup safety, but now that appears to have drifted back to Robert Golden. It’s not unreasonable to think Sutton getting some time as the dime back is possible.

Of course, having seven cornerbacks on the roster really makes it hard for everybody to get a helmet, and while Haden is out, Sutton will likely be fighting fellow rookie Brian Allen for a helmet each week. When he returns, perhaps neither will dress under healthy circumstances.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Iulo

    hard to see him playing defense this year. Maybe in garbage time.
    If there is an injury he might have an open spot.

    I have mentioned this before, I expect him to play some ST. Having him contributing there with some tackles is a good start. Its also not too late to check if he can be reliable punt returner at nfl level.

  • Kevin artis

    I say if we have a huge lead.

  • Kevin Reich

    Good just to have him practicing. Unlike Golson.

  • Timothy Rea

    Of course he’s not going to supplant the starters. Even Gay is safe as he’s playing well. First guy up if someone gets injured or tired or garbage time for the experience.

  • Jaybird

    I think it will be interesting to see if Allen gets a helmet over Sutton. If Allen does not get a helmet then I guess it would show he’s not making as much progress as we fans had hope for. It would be telling that a fellow rookie who has barely even practiced much in the preseason and was hurst the first 8 games or so, is active on game over Allen.
    I’m also interested in seeing where we even use Sutton- inside or out? That completion will be a good one as well but I can’t see him bumping either outside corner and I can’t see him dethroning Hilton.
    Lots of good completion in our secondary.

  • SouthernSteel


  • stan

    I wasn’t impressed with Sensabaugh or Burns last week. If Sutton is good enough to activate rather than leaving him on IR for the season, then he must be good enough to at least push those two.
    Isn’t Sutton in the discussion for kick and punt returns too? He was an outstanding returner at Tennessee.

  • Rich Stafford

    Sutton is supposed to be a man coverage specialist. I would think you would groom him a bit to see if he can play before TB12 comes to town. I would like to see gay pushed out at the very least. We have already seen the result of gay vs NE slot recievers.

  • Roblisberger

    I don’t think it would be a bad thing if he got the helmet over Allen. Allen was seen as a project player coming in, Sutton is a 3rd round pick compared to 5th for Allen. We drafted Sutton as a more NFL ready corner so it would make sense. I think the fact that they are both on the 53 shows that the team has faith in both of them

  • Roblisberger

    Burns is locked in as a starter, we aren’t going to give up on a 1st round pick. I really hope Sutton can take the punt return role because AB has flat out sucked, he either lets the ball drop and roll or fair catches.

  • Jaybird

    No not a bad thing, your right. But Allen has probable had three or four months more of practice than Sutton. Hey I’m hoping they both become studs! I’d love Allen to eventually take over for Haden in a few years . And I’m still not sure where Sutton will play – inside or out? Boy does this beat having Gilbert , Blake and company as our backups and starters.

  • Charles Haines

    If they don’t get him some snaps now he will after Brady torches Gay all afternoon

  • nutty32

    There’s always Cleveland, especially if we beat the Pats week 15 and effectively grab a game and a lead for the top seed.

  • stan

    We’ve given up on plenty of first rounders in the past if they didn’t perform. Burns has generally been pretty good so I think he’s in less danger than Sensabaugh, but its not like he’s untouchable.

    Agree on AB as a punt returner. He is clearly not putting forth the effort that he used to. We need a guy who will actually catch the ball and run upfield.

  • Brenton deed

    If they expose Allen when Gilbert returns then he’s disappointed the coaches with his progress. Otherwise he’s doing OK regardless of what they do with Sutton.

  • Jaybird

    I think they’d let Hunter or Big Dan go before Allen. But I’m biased because I want the secondary guys to all pan out . I will say this , Allen does not look natural at CB . Neither does Artie for that matter. But look at Haden when he’s out there, the guy is so fluid and quick( not fast), he was born to be a corner.