2017 South Side Questions: Will Cameron Sutton Be On His Own Sunday?

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: If neither Coty Sensabaugh nor Joe Haden dress, will the Steelers leave Cameron Sutton on his own?

At the moment, it appears to be shaping up for rookie cornerback Cameron Sutton to make his first career start…against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, which is a less than ideal circumstance. Things can change between now and Sunday, but it’s an easy prediction to make right now.

Starting cornerback Joe Haden is just getting back on his feet while recovering from a fractured leg. He has run on a limited basis in practice so far for two days after missing several weeks. Meanwhile, Coty Sensabaugh, who was the primary player filling in for him, has missed all of practice so far this week.

That leaves open the very real possibility that Sutton is basically the last man standing at left outside cornerback. But would they really leave him out there without any alternative, even if he struggles? I would not be inclined to think so.

While I have seen no confirmation, I wouldn’t be surprised if William Gay took some reps on the outside this week. Gay, their dime back this season, has been a starter on the outside as recently as last season, although he was once torched by Rob Gronkowski for three touchdowns back in 2010. Before Gronkowski was ‘Gronk’.

What about the other rookie, Brian Allen? I mean…he is the only other cornerback, after all. The fifth-round pick has not spent a single snap on defense all season, but has worked himself into an active role on special teams.

It the Steelers are without both Haden and Sensabaugh, and left only with Sutton, would they try to make use of Allen and his size in some capacity?

Hopefully we won’t need to find the answer to this question. Hopefully Haden is a full go in practice today and has no negative consequences from the exertion and is able to play on Sunday. But if not, things could get…interesting.

About the Author

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

    I think Sutton will do just fine in coverage. Against the run he seems lost right now, but if we’re gonna run man coverage on the outside then Sutton is the guy. Gay can’t do that anymore and no way in hell is Tomlin gonna put Brian Allen out there.

  • Kevin artis

    A rookie cornerback against Brady and Belicheck? Oh lord! Our veterans get torched to unbelievable proportion and we are going to let a rookie step on the field. It may be no choice in the matter but I would go with Sensabaugh if he’s available, then Gay, then Sutton. Unless we give him help.
    This could ruin his confidence if he is torched too bad.

  • Iulo

    agree with the coinfidence issue…. but it will not be the first time it happens. Artie played against NE on the Week7 in his rookie year.
    Coty is injured. Haden is coming from injury. Play Sutton and give him some help.
    Gay has other tasks in this defense without Shazier

  • Kevin Artis

    I guess we don’t have many options. Play him with some help over the top. Allen might see some action as well.
    I hope he has two interceptions and one pick six.

  • SnoopDogg123

    I’m more concerned about Artie Burns and Sean Davis in coverage.

  • Conserv_58

    Having rookie Sutton be on an island in this game is like sending a lamb into lion’s den. I would feel a lot better had Sutton not stood on the sidelines from camp until a couple of weeks ago.

    According to Tunch Ilkin the coaching staff gave Joe Haden a little more in practice yesterday and Joe showed no signs of discomfort. Tunch went on to say that Joe didn’t favor the knee and that he was running, cutting and jumping without looking as though he was being bothered by the knee. Tunch also said that yesterday’s practice was very intense, the most intense he’s seen all season. He went on to say that the players were really getting after it and hitting even without pads on. That’s very encouraging to hear and it proves how lazer focused the players are for this game.

  • Conserv_58

    Who comes off of the field to allow Gay to play, Hilton?

  • Sam Clonch

    I’d be shocked if they left him “on an island”, especially if Cooks lines up in his area. He’ll surely get safety help.

  • John Pennington

    Its time for Sutton and Allen with his size to get some action on the field.Maybe Allen with his size could cramp Gronk game.But we will never know but its time to find out.

  • Jim Foles

    Everyone in the NFL gets torched by them.. Stop them as much as possible, and Ben and the B’s need TD’s to win this one.

  • Jim Foles


  • Intense Camel

    Looks weird seeing him suited up lol

  • Intense Camel

    Sensabaugh and Gay WILL get destroyed. With Sutton at least there’s a possibility of him being competent.

  • Carl Mendelius

    I have a terrible feeling that Brandin Cooks will torch them for 6 at least once, it is inevitable. Gronk will do the same in the red zone. The problem is that they still have to stop Amendola, White, Hogan and Lewis. I think it is too much for a zone coverage secondary.

  • LucasY59

    lately it has been Vince that comes off when Will goes in (and Gay plays a Dimebacker role)…Hilton stays in the slot

  • Kevin Artis

    You are probably right. At least with Sutton there is not a lot of film on him.

  • Renohightower

    oh boy but id take both over Sensabaugh

  • LucasY59

    I think if Sensabaugh is inactive that Haden has to dress regardless of if he is ready to play, I think they might start Sutton, but Joe might rotate in every other series (or if the rookie struggles)

    as for leaving Sutton on his own, I highly doubt they leave him in single man coverage for most of the game, but there could (and maybe should) be situations where that happens, the person that should ALWAYS have help is whoever is covering Gronk (and that is also why Cam wont always have help)

    I think Watt and Dupree could be guys that help cover Gronk (along with Davis over top of them) both OLBs have size and Athleticism to possibly be effective against him

    I also think Allen could be useful in certain situations for this game (and in the future if he plays well) his size speed should match up better with Gronk than someone like Gay or Hilton, and previously they have had success using a similar rookie (with a similar name) when Cortez Allen played in 2011, they played some press man, and I think IF Brian only has the responsibilty of covering Gronk (and doesnt need to know a bunch of the other schemes) that he could be effective (the other thing about press man is that there has to be help over the top) *one other reason to use Allen is that with Coty and Joe hurt they are somewhat short on CBs

    looking back at the 2011 game some more, the thing that sticks out is that Gronk had a fairly big game (but they limited the big plays with him …0 TDs) and the rest of the receivers didnt really do much, the other (probably bigger thing) was that the Steelers O controlled the clock and didnt give Shady and the pats time/possesions

  • LucasY59

    I think they should play some press man and with that the Safeties are covering deep (as well as switching it with zone so that Shady doesnt key on one scheme and pick it apart)

    I think the key will be keeping the pats from getting big plays (and the Steelers O controlling the clock so that it also limits the pats opportunities…which also means not giving them the ball via TOs)

  • Iulo

    good question… dunno… I would like to see both Gay and Hilton playing and only one ILB… that would be my choice… but coaches are more better than me 🙂 so I hope they find it out