Role For Cam Sutton Difficult To Find In His Presumed Return

It’s likely, maybe almost certain, Cam Sutton is activated off injured reserve. He’s healthy, Mike Tomlin seemingly impressed with the work he’s put in at practice, and the Pittsburgh Steelers probably don’t want to shut him down and stunt his growth the rest of the season.

So Sutton, and his awkward #34 jersey, will be ready to go. But finding a home for him on this defense is going to be difficult. Don’t get your hopes up. Coty Sensabaugh is the guy to replace Joe Haden. There wasn’t much debate about it after Haden went down and Sensabaugh’s performance Thursday night cemented that.

Slot is out, too, an area Sutton saw increased work at during his brief training camp appearances. Mike Hilton has played exceptionally well. End of story. The last spot you could argue is the most likely, supplanting William Gay in dime packages. But Gay has played well and is suited for that box role with his sure tackling and football IQ. Sutton could do well in that role but with Gay playing well, and the secondary as a whole holding their own, the Steelers probably won’t make a change unless they feel compelled to.

It’s not impossible Sutton gets added into that role but you figure if it happens, a change won’t be made until later in the year.

Bottom line. There’s no obvious place for him to go. Instead, he’ll be a member on special teams, assuming he gets the nod over Brian Allen. Maybe working as a gunner and if not, somewhere along Danny Smith’s unit. There’s an argument that will be made for him to return punts. Frankly, I’d be shocked if that happened at any point this year.

That probably doesn’t reach the expectations set out for him after the draft but it’s a good problem to have. For the first time in a long time, there’s real depth at cornerback.

Turning to Sensabaugh is a downgrade, there’s no debate about that, but it’s a lot better than turning to Antwon Blake/Doran Grant/Brandon Boykin, all names from not too long ago. It got ugly.

Obviously, there’s no telling exactly where Sutton’s career heads. He hasn’t even taken a snap yet. But with his IQ, work ethic, and depth that will allow the team to slow-burn his work into this team, he’s in position to push for playing time in 2018.

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • William Weaver

    If Cody or Artie turn an ankle and Cam is active, do they put him out there or start Will Gay on outside?

  • Steelman72

    If he turns out to be a good one, it’s a great problem to have. There is always room on a roster for good football players. Prior to the draft, some coaches and scouts stated that he was having great workouts and his football IQ was off the charts. Can’t wait for him to contribute this year or next.

  • Sam Clonch

    Dangit Alex, where does the roster spot come from though!!!

  • FATCAT716

    Big Dan

  • steelburg

    I would think that the only logical spot is like you said for him to steal snaps from Gay. But also like you said Gay is the perfect player for that dime role and I don’t know that Sutton would be as good a tackler as Gay in that role. With that said I still think they will try and force him in that role just to get him some playing time. I think that they can toy around with him there due to the small number of snaps Gay sees a game which is like around 15. If he plays equal to or better there they will keep him there if not they can always run Gay back out there. But I cant imagine they went through the trouble of bring him back to over see the water cooler. I think they have a plan for him in the dime and it’s a small enough role where he won’t affect the dynamic of the secondary.

  • Applebite

    His role? To be prepared for anything.

  • Steve Johnson

    If his IQ is that high, why not rotate him with William Gay? From watching his tape in College, he is faster (4.52/40 yard dash), great cover skills and a pretty good tackler. According to his profile, the only concern was he needed add more muscle to his weak frame.

  • justafanlikeyou

    Tougher question may be who gets released to make room for him?

  • Steve Johnson

    If you had to chose between Dan McCullers or CB Brian Allen, who would you choose?

  • Andrew

    He more than likely won’t see any playing time minus spot depth duties, but he could be in line to play in Gay’s spot next year, as there is a real chance Gay isn’t on the team next year.

  • Andrew

    I would have to say Big Dan. If we really needed the CB help, I’m sure Shadetree could fill in!

  • justafanlikeyou

    Well, I’ve always been critical of Big Dan’s ability and he hasn’t logged many snaps this year. On the flip side if you cut Dan you eliminate dline depth on game day.
    Talent wise it’s a no brainer you cut McCullers but can you really afford to eliminate a dlineman and carry so many DBs?
    Justin Hunter?

  • Sam Clonch

    It makes sense, but then Hargrave is the only true NT on the roster. If he’s out (knock on wood) you then have Walton or Alualu playing out of position in the base 3-4. Them out of position might be better than Dan IN position though, lol!

  • Sam Clonch

    Great question. I’d have to say Gay, with all his experience, but give Cam snaps whenever possible.

  • Ace

    Punt Returner.

  • srdan

    man that is a good question. Reality is outside is easier to play but has a bigger impact on games. I got a feeling you’re right. On teh merit that Cam was drafted to play inside.

    Only other way I can think of it is if they want to run him outside see if they have to pay Haden next year, or is there enough to play cam for the season.

  • srdan


  • Ray

    I say Hawkins as well and try to sneak him onto PS

  • Alex Kozora

    Right, if there’s a a place for him to go, it’s dime. But I don’t think that happens for at least a month.

  • FATCAT716

    Big Dan played one snap this season back in week 3 trust me we will survive

  • steelburg

    I basically said that. But they still have to be careful because we know Gay is a good tackler. We think Sutton is one Gay plays on key third downs and that is the money down to get off the field. So I think they should try Sutton there and if he does well they should roll with him if not they should turn back to Gay.

  • Sam Clonch

    I’ve said him before too, but been shot down by the moderators who swear they always carry 9 OL. I think Jerald still has more potential than Big Dan.

  • Thomas

    This is right about the time I’d like to hear what the coaches have to say about Allen’s progress through the year.

  • Lambert58

    Ideally we go up 30 by the 3rd quarter, then let him PR for the rest of the game.

  • Lambert58

    Good problem to have: Two young up and coming CBs that can’t get on the field.

  • Chad Weiss

    What a nice problem to have. The Steelers having good player at CB is wonderful but to have good depth also.Id be comfortable throwing any of our CB out there on the field. Steelers have no reason to go after a CB next year in the draft..

  • NinjaMountie

    Exactly! If Hargrave got injured and couldn’t play we could put another DL in Big D’s place and get about the same, if not more, production.
    It has to be Big D in my opinion. I wouldn’t trade a potential talent in Allen for Dan ever.

  • Jay Clam

    Ugh, Gilbert suspended four games.

  • FATCAT716

    No please not Allen

  • SeventhHeavan

    Why not rotate him in with Sensabaugh? He played OK last week. He got beat on that long TD pass. Why not see what the kid can do? We need a playmaker. How are we going to know if you’re going to put him on the shelf…

  • Dennis Nevinsky

    I wonder if he has ever played safety. We could use a back up safety.

  • gdeuce

    this next game would be the one to do it against that horrible packers offence

  • Rob H

    Agree about the dime being his only spot right now, I just have it happening a week earlier, against the Pats.
    The one game left on our schedule where they will absolutely have to mix in a fair share of man coverage, and Gay is not the guy you want doing that. One of the few times they tried to play man against the Pats last year, Brady managed to find the guy Gay was attempting (and failing badly) to cover.

  • Rob H

    They had him doing it during senior bowl week, and I wouldn’t rule it out in certain packages in the future, but not on the fly mid season.

  • Rob H

    I’m just surprised this is even a discussion for people anymore, Allen isn’t going anywhere.
    Personally I’d cut McCullers, but Gilbert’s suspension makes it a moot point for the next 4 weeks, after that it’s probably one of the extra tackles.

  • MC

    Woiuld love him to be active to play on coverage units and as the returner. As for defence, I can’t see him supplanting anyone this season unless by injury. He should take Gay’s role next season.

  • Rocksolid20

    What makes us think he gets a helmet ? Inactive , i’ll say .

  • Rocksolid20


  • Rocksolid20

    Why not a WR ?

  • Rocksolid20

    Tomlin will not
    go that way this late
    in the season .

  • Rocksolid20

    Gilbert has been out more than in .

  • Av232

    With how high Haden is on the org, and how high the org is on Haden, it’s hard for me to imagine him as a one and done.

  • srdan

    Not fair! You’re working with more info

  • Garrett Hunt

    I agree with you that it will probably not happen, but I would love to see Sutton returning punts. Put somebody back there looking to make a name for themselves and have that be his primary focus.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    His role is clear tho. The road is long, and he may be the next man up, if/when someone goes down.

    For instance, if Burns had to miss a series, how would the coverage thru dime look – Sutton involved?

  • William Weaver

    If Artie or Cody get hurt, you still think he is inactive?