Sensabaugh No Reason To Keep Cameron Sutton From Playing

Let’s be honest: the door was open for Cameron Sutton to play once Joe Haden was injured. And we saw that he got the first snaps of his professional career on Monday night, spelling Coty Sensabaugh in the second half for the Pittsburgh Steelers defense after the veteran was beaten multiple times for touchdowns by A.J. Green.

I believe my colleagues were more pessimistic about him being given the opportunity, and more surprised when it happened, when I was, though even I knew that it would probably be a borderline matter of necessity before it happened, and the way Sensabaugh was playing, it had the feeling of a necessary change.

That is basically what head coach Mike Tomlin said after the game, saying that he put Sutton in feeling that they “needed a spark”. Normally you don’t expect to get that ‘spark’ by inserting a rookie who missed the first 10 games, and I wouldn’t necessarily say that his insertion had much to do with the defense only allowing a field goal in the second half, but this is where we are.

Where, exactly, that is remains to be seen. Will the Steelers allow Sensabaugh and Sutton to compete during practice—on a short week no less, heading into a divisional game in prime time—for the chance to start their next game?

They have in the past utilized a rotation of players, which is something that they can consider. In 2015, Antwon Blake and Ross Cockrell spent time rotating in at left cornerback, and Brandon Boykin later in the season was involved in some shuffling mid-game as well.

I will say that it will be interesting to see what the next game holds for Sutton. He could play the entire game, or not see a single snap. Whoever starts is only keeping the seat warm for Haden, whenever he is able to return, which will hopefully be as early as the week after next, in time to face the Patriots.

Personally, I would like to give Sutton the chance to play. Sunday’s game is not a must-win, and Sensabaugh has done little to justify his place in the starting lineup, anyway. In fact, he has played worse than I expected him to. I actually liked him when they signed him, but he has shown his worst traits in recent weeks that makes it a lot easier to consider benching him.

Sutton can always be pulled rather easily if he happens to struggle, the same way that Sensabaugh was pulled. Neither Sutton nor Sensabaugh are supposed to be starters, and Sensabaugh does not exactly have the most secure spot on the team to begin with.

Having now dipped his toe in the water, and put some snaps on film, the coaching staff can make a more informed decision about Sutton for the next game, and for however long Haden misses. If his play justifies him playing, then he should play.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • D.j. Hoy

    While I’m a fan of Sutton, I think you’re being a little harsh on Coty. I think he’s done a fine job up until AJ Green got to him. That’s AJ Green, though. He does that to top tier CBs. Coty had a pick 3 games ago and has shown generally good coverage from what I’ve seen.

  • DirtDawg1964

    Bouchette didn’t have nice words to say about Sutton (when does he ever have anything nice – or relevant – to say) and some posters here have been harsh, but geez, it was the kid’s first snaps of the season, without notice, and he’s a rookie. And not some top ten draft pick rookie.

    Yes, he had some bad plays but he also had some good plays. The guy needs a good 20 to 30 games of work before we can say he’s something or he’s nothing. I continue to remind people that Heyward – the All-Pro, legit DOP candidate – sat behind Ziggy Hood for two years. It takes time for these guys to find their footing.

    One half of play tells us nothing other than he didn’t lose his opportunity to play more. Very little downside at this point. We know Coty’s body of work from his time in the league. Time to see what Sutton can do in a game that is fairly meaningless in the grand scheme of things (although a win clinches the division).

  • AndyR34

    I think much of this comes down to film study and game preparation. I said this in another thread some time ago, butt Coty did well initially replacing Haden because she didn’t have much on tape in the Steeler defense and offenses spend little time prepping for back-ups. Now that Coty has stuff on tape, it is easier to plan for his weaknesses…there is a reason he is a back-up and not a starter. It’s also why I think the Antwon Blake and Ross Cockrell rotation was somewhat effective. Offenses didn’t really know who to plan for and planning for both is Similar for Sutton…no tape out there. Unfortunately, also limited game experience. A rotation between Coty & Sutton might be better than trying to maintain one as the starter.

  • falconsaftey43

    idk, he’s been in on a lot of those explosive TDs in prior games.


    There is not AJ Green playing for Baltimore so who plays should not matter as much from a match-up standpoint. We know what we have in Coty we have a lot to find out about Sutton. This is a perfect time to give him some valuable reps in a big time game to prepare him for possible future use down the stretch and playoffs should he be needed. Starting Sutton is not to say he is replacing Coty as a starter until Haden is back…it is using this particular game to use him to get him acclimated. I want to beat the Ravens no doubt but we all know that the whole enchilada is determined the following week.

  • Sam Clonch

    That same game Coty had a pick, he also gave up a 75 yard TD, and was involved in 2 long TDs against Indy too. He’s getting beat by everyone, not just AJ. I wanted to like him too, but he’s blowing it.

  • Darth Blount 47

    I think this game would be a pretty good opportunity to see what we have. Which, is what I was calling for quite a bit on a few articles, recently. I assumed that it would come from the expense of Gay, but I keep forgetting that unlike how many were positing here pre-season, Sutton got work primarily as a boundary-CB only. And so, since Sensabaugh has been beaten like a red-headed step-child recently, I think it wise to let Sutton have a go. Although Wallace and Maclin are savvy, it’s better than facing the Smurf-Posse of New England, right out.

  • Danielsteelstrong81

    If we win Sunday night will we wrap up the north?

  • rystorm06

    Yep. If the Ravens lose, the best they can do is 10-6 and we’d be at 11 wins.

  • Steeldog22

    Sutton was beat bad on the TD to Green that was called back and over the top on the sideline on another play. I was excited about him getting the opportunity too but he looked unready at the line and then just slow to me (or is it just the fact that he’s wearing 34 that makes him look even slower).

  • Mark

    Coty’s coverage skills were horrible at best. He’s playing outside technique and still gives up the outside to AJ Green on a corner route for an easy TD. Then, with outside help from TJ, he gives up the middle coverage and was actually backing into the endzone by the time the ball was caught by AJ. He also got beat for a 16 yard 1st down when he’s playing under coverage with a safety help over the top.

    Coty is Ross 2.0. Hopefully, Sutton with the help of a safety not named Golden would be better at this point.

  • Ken Krampert

    Sutton set a tone on his first play. Dalton threw right at him and he had tight coverage and broke up the pass. He gave up a few catches but didn’t get beat for a td or anything long. Play him, we need to see how he holds up when being game planned against. Let’s face it, Balt will go after Sensabaugh or Sutton. Sensabaugh looks slow footed, so hopefully Suttons young feet can keep up.

  • Darth Blount 47

    I’ve been harsh on evaluating the pick at the time relative to his draft slot, the other players available, and what I thought was an underwhelming college career and the skills that I personally like to see in CB’s. That said, I have read many good things about Cam Sutton the person. And I’ve seen some very troubling things from Coty Sensabaugh the player. So at this point, I’m a big fan of the potential for Sutton to, as Tomlin said, “provide a spark.” Sutton is a moldable hunk of clay. So I will reserve any judgments now, based upon his playing time with us and “what he puts on film,” as yet another Tomlinism. My hope is that he comes in and basically is another Mike Hilton, 2017, 2.0.

  • Mark

    I would’ve thought Golden would’ve have some blame as well playing deep safety. No way Butler leaves him one on one with no help over the top as a rookie CB with no in game experience. If Butler did then that was on Butler not Cam

  • Darth Blount 47

    Wearing 34, the “Mendenhall,” is not a good look on the Steeler-fan-eye.

    It makes me cringe ever-not-so-slightly, to be sure.

    That said, if you ask me whether I want Sensabaugh or Sutton, I’d hold my nose and say Sutton. Because I’ll take potential right now over cemented mediocrity.

  • Steeldog22

    Yeah. I looked again. Safety was back there then ran right by Green going the other way. Don’t know what the heck he was thinking.

  • Ray

    Was Sensabaugh even better than Ross Cockrell? In my opinion he wasn’t then or now

  • John Noh

    Yeah he did. We were just fortunate that the holding call negated the AJ Green TD, which might have been the nail in the coffin.

  • Stairway7

    If Bouchette doesn’t like him…..I say play him.

  • Zarbor

    Agreed. Lets not make it seem like it was just AJ Green. He’s been getting toasted along with Burns. When you watch the replay he looks bad. He either bites to hard and can’t recover or they just blow past him. Burns obviouly has the talent…Its time for Sutton. Show us what you got kid.

  • Ken Krampert

    If It’s not on the stat sheet, it didn’t happen. Just like Bryant didn’t have a kick return td.

  • Rusted Out

    I think Ross was worth holding onto, at least as a backup if nothing else. I’m not sure how much the Giants offered him, but the Steelers basically let him walk.

  • Rusted Out

    Maybe not on the scoreboard, but It counts if you’re looking at player evaluation. Either way, I think Mathew nailed it in the title of this article. “Sensabaugh No Reason To Keep Cameron Sutton From Playing”

  • Rusted Out

    Can you still call the NE receivers the Smurf-Posse? With Gronk healthy and Cook now in the fold, I threw that moniker out.

  • John Noh

    That’s quite an Orwellian 1984 view of things. More practically speaking though, it indicates that Cam has some things to figure out before becoming a quality CB in the NFL.

  • Ken Krampert

    You obviously misunderstand the headline. It means that Sensabaughs (poor) play should not hold the coaching staff from playing Sutton.

  • Obi Ryn Denobi

    I like to give everybody a chance, but Sutton was an immediate and noticeable upgrade athletically when he came in. Sensabaugh looks overwhelmed frequently against the top tier receivers, but might still make a nice dime and special teams pieces part.

    Until Joe Haden comes back, I think the better options are, in an ideal world, Sutton, if he can handle it, or Willie Gay, who may not have the speed anymore, but I’m sure still possesses crafty veteran tricks that would make him the better option if the kid isn’t ready yet.

    When you already have the teething problems with three baby DB’s in the secondary, you can ill afford more. Coty was getting painful to watch. Tomlin knew he needed to make a change, after the last Green touchdown.

  • Ken Krampert

    The Steelers traded Cockrell for a conditional draft pick. Check out his game against the Redskins a few weeks ago. He still sucks bad. Getting rid of him was the right move, even if Coty is almost as bad. At least we may get a 7th rnd pick for him.

  • LucasY59

    Coach couldve said to put a tourniquet and keep them from bleeding out since Green was tearing them apart with Sensabaugh on him, but provide a “spark” doesnt throw his player under the bus as bad

  • Ken Krampert

    I guess a half of play is tough to get a complete evaluation on a guy. I would imagine Artie Burns still has some things to figure out as well. Coty has been in the league primarily as a backup for most of his career, so we know what we are getting with him. Hard for Coty to work on lack of speed and quick feet. We need to give Sutton playing time to see of he is a player. You obviously misunderstood the article as well.

  • Ray

    Ok i just did not see him getting torch with us

  • Charles Haines

    Coty has been burned in every game so why not start Sutton? Let him return punts as well, that’s where we need a spark.

  • Renohightower

    the man has been burned twice a game badly not even in camera frame

  • nutty32

    No Mitchell, no Haden, no Shazier – we’re going to be toast against any decent passing attack. Fort, Golden, & Coty/Sutton are going to be picked apart…

  • Charles Haines

    Ross couldn’t cover and he couldn’t tackle.

  • John Pennington

    Get Sutton ready this week.Let him get the snaps he needs and film study to do his job.His time is now lets see what he brings to the table as a player.

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    After watching the reincarnation of Harvey Clayton, Joe’s wallet just got thicker. What’s the draft next year, CB? TE? S? Prayers for the human Ryan Shazier first then the player?

  • Spencer Krick

    Might as well see what you have in Sutton.

  • DelawareBoy302

    This was so crazy that nobody noticed Artie B had one of his best games this year,he was targeted like 7 times and gave up two receptions for like 18 yards,and two or three passes defensed and one of the passes was against AJ Green in the end zone that woul have definitely been a touchdown,But Sutton should definitely start over Sensabaugh he been in dam near all the big plays giving up since Haden went down

  • Steeler Nation!

    I wish Sensabaugh was good as Ross. He’s not. Hoping Sutton can keep a lid on things better than Sensabaugh. I doubt many CBs in the league have given up more explosive plays over the course of the SEASON than CS has. We need to get our guys healthy. Gonna be tough beat anyone decent with what we’re playing with now..

  • Biggie

    Coty started out decently enough but his play has dropped off substantially last couple weeks. Sutton held his own last game and deserves a shot. I will say one difference from 1st half to 2nd half was the fact we started playing aggressively on defense and rushing more putting pressure on Dalton so half the problem was coaching. Butler just isn’t aggressive enough in his coaching. Hopefully Mitchell comes back against Ravens to give us a little more speed at Safety.

  • stan

    It doesn’t seem crazy at all to me that a third round pick would get a chance for major minutes after an injury. Even on a contender. I would have given Sutton a shot after Sensabaugh gave up his second embarrassing long touchdown in two weeks against the Pack if only he was active.

  • steelburg

    I say give Sutton a go. Let him get the reps. But they need to protect him in coverage like they did with Burns last year. They don’t need to leave him on island and hope he holds up. I still feel like we need to add a CB to this group I still don’t have full confidence in Burns although I think he will get it figured out in the next year or so, and I think Sutton’s ceiling as a player is at best becoming William Gay in his prime. Allen is the wild card here if he works out that would be huge for this group. I have full confidence in Haden once he gets back out there, and I cant believe im saying this but I also have full confidence in Hilton. But we might need to add 1 more young CB to this group.

  • capehouse

    Smartest move they made Monday night was benching Sensabaugh. He’s been terrible. No way in hell he regains his starting spot outside of another injury.

  • Surrealist

    one can hope

  • steelburg

    Won’t happen. I wasn’t down on the pick I was pretty even about it. I felt like he went at or around the spot he should have went. But the ceiling I have for him is becoming the next William Gay at best. Gay isn’t a bad player but he was never a pro bowl type player and that’s pretty much what I think Suttton will become. Watching that game the other night it pisses me off that we didn’t land William Jackson and the Bengals did. I just like the toughness he played with the whole game. I think Burns picks and chooses when to play tough.

  • steelburg

    For his height and his size Sutton is slow by NFL standards. When they drafted him I viewed him as a quicker Ross Cockrell with a little bit more ability to play man then Ross did. But IMO he isn’t a huge upgrade over Ross.

  • Darth Blount 47

    I mean it in the most literal sense.

    Sure Gronk is tall, but so is every other TE in the league. Cooks, on the other hand, is 3 foot 3. Amendola is 3 foot 6. Edelman is 3 foot 6. Phillip Dorset is 3 foot 5. Matthew Slater is 3 foot 8. Bernard Reedy (whoever the hell that is) is 3 foot 2. And Hogan is a towering 4 foot 1.

    (Literally all guys are under 6’0 except for Hogan at 6’1)

  • Jason Dock Dudley

    Grass greener syndrome. Burns is coming along just fine and had a very good game against Cinci. Making a move means giving up draft picks and we do not know what making that move would have involved. Last years 3rd(hargrave) along with this years 2nd(juju)? Truth is we don’t know and waiting has not harmed the Steelers one bit. It is a team sport. Steelers have Burns and are 10-2. Cinci has Jackson and are 5-7. I’m cool with that.

  • John

    you want corners that become statues and let rbs run down the sideline for TDs?

  • Jason Dock Dudley

    Cockrell had a horrible pre-season. He earned his being traded. it was disapointing but he way he played and form reports practiced……he had to be let go.

  • steelburg

    That was a clear mistake. I can tell you this he was not intimidated by AB one bit. He looked really good in man coverage against him although AB was slightly hindered by that toe.

  • PittShawnC

    cause he didn’t

  • PittShawnC

    I agree with you Ray. Cockrell had a bad preseason and traded away because he wasn’t a strong man corner. Understandable.

    Yet here we are running zone 70% of the time.

    Cockrell would’ve provided much better depth (in a zone heavy scheme) than Sensabaugh.

  • Rusted Out

    He was no shut down corner, but certainly better than Coty.

  • Rusted Out

    Nope, I got that and agree with it. I’m being critical of both players. That being said, Sutton is the rook, and there is at least reason to hope he can be better.

  • PittShawnC

    I was surprised when we traded Ross, he’s not a man guy. But I thought he had a decent season with us last year:

    19 game starter who gave up 2 TD’s in 93 targets, a longest pass of 37yds, on the field for 97.8% of defensive snaps, 0.87 yds per coverage snap (15th best in NFL), gave up the 3rd lowest YAC after a reception of ALL NFL corners, had 2 holding and 3 PI’s in 622 coverage snaps and manned AJ Green successfully and OBJ and others.

  • Rusted Out

    Yea, it’s been a while, and I didn’t care enough to look it up before commenting. I just think he would have been solid depth behind Haden (more so than Coty anyway). We can agree to disagree on that.

  • Junaid Mahmud

    Exactly, thats what im saying. Burns played really well.

  • Matthew Marczi

    He actually was active last week. There was even a snap on which he was running out onto the field, but the coaches pulled him back.

  • Junaid Mahmud

    Sutton played well for a rookie with 0 snaps in the league. The first play he was out there he was targeted. It was like a hook pass to Green and he came back and broke up the pass. I’ve seen a lot of dbs in the league who wouldn’t come back and try to make the play. I hope they can let Allen get some reps in practice and let him build off of that. I think im done with coty. I’m 5’5, but I feel i could have played much better. He gets beat too easily with fakes. In desperation mode I rather have bpwg ahead of coty.

  • Junaid Mahmud

    He’s allowed too many big plays. Gets beat with deep routes/fakes. I would just cut him

  • Junaid Mahmud

    I have to disagree. Cameron sutton I think will be a solid player. I’ve watched his film and see another artie burns. The reason he was drafted in the 3rd was because this was one the deepest db draft class. Burns ran a 4.46 and Sutton had a 4.52. Not much of a difference. I know people are talking about Sutton having shorter arms and hands, but he had 34 inch vertical compared to burns with a 31.5. The first play he had, I was sold. You dont see many corners coming back . (it was a simple hook) Usually you see cbs play off and then come back to make the tackle or push the receiver out of bounds. This kid has potential. Dont sleep on him.

  • Zarbor

    Ahhh. Smoking weed syndrome. Not sure what games you are watching but Burns have regressed this year. We didn’t use a high draft pick at CB for Cincy. We have been beating those guys like 14 out of the last 16 games. We need several man covrage type for NE and the rest of the high flying NFL teams.

    We know what making that kinda move for Polamalu did for us. Was it worth it?
    Making that move would have involved getting a corner that already look and most likely will be better than Burns. A potential shutdown corner which something Burns have not shown to be. The Steelers clearly wanted and needed him but was not willing to go up just a few to make sure we got him. Cincy took him one spot right before us.

    In this league of pass happy can’t touch anyone, a top flight corner is WAAAY more valuable, hard to come by and why the best of the best goes high in first rounds. As long as he stays healthy, stay tuned you will hear more about Will Jack. I beg to differ that waiting has not harmed the Steelers one bit.

    Yeah we are 10-2 and Cincy is 5-7 but if we don’t win the SB, we ended up in the same place….This is all about SB for us Steelers not records. Don’t get it twisted son.

  • Reggie Cunningham

    why’s golden on this team anyways? Really Golden is just special teams. I don’t know why Dangerfield isn’t playing

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    The problem I see with Sutton is that he’s a raw rookie with virtually zero snaps under his belt due to a serious leg injury. The situation is almost set up for him to fail.

  • MC

    hahah right on. 34 is such a good RB number though, Mendy didn’t just didn’t live up to it.

  • EdJHJr

    I’m personally unsure, but sounds like we have nobody at this position

  • Jason Dock Dudley

    First, you have no idea what would have been needed to move up. It is not unheard of a players having a sophomore slump either. Maybe they would have had to give up a second last year and no Davis. Your belief of how little it would have cost is pure false belief. No one knows what it would have cost and you have created a fantasy based on the outcome you desire. Concerning your ignorance, I don’t smoke weed and surely am not your son.

  • steelburg

    4.46 and 4.52 is a big difference in the NFL. I’m not down on Sutton at all I just think he has a much lower ceiling then Burns does. I see it like this if both Burns and Sutton ever reached there full potential Burns would clearly be the better player IMO. If Burns puts it altogether I think he can be one of the best CB in the league. If Sutton ever puts it altogether the best I think he could be is on the same level as Gay in his prime. Gay in his prime was a good player which is what I think Sutton has the potential to be. But I just don’t see Sutton ever becoming even a pro bowl type corner but I still think he can be a good CB.

  • mhurk

    Im not sure why teams would pick on Sutton when Burns is out there. Im just not sure Burns is any better than Sutton, maybe a little taller and a little faster but athletic potential aint worth crap if You dont know how to use it. Sutton may be the Steelers 2nd best healthy DB behind Hilton.

  • Steve

    Remember also that Jackson was out all of last year, after getting hurt early.

  • Steve

    Good point.

  • Steve

    Gronk will be back playing the Steelers, but he is suspended against the Dolphins.

  • Steve

    If you can catch, who care how tall or fast you are. Look at Fred Biletnikoff, the guy was slower than a snail, but could catch and is in the Hall of Fame. Did you know Fred was from Erie Pa?

  • Steve

    If a CB plays 10 yards off a WR and the QB can throw the ball 30 yards, that’s 20 yards the CB needs to back peddle. If the CB twits his hips and runs with the WR, he should easily be able to keep up with the receiver.

  • Ken Krampert

    And your point is???

  • Steve

    The job is not too hard for a person if they pay attention and do their job.

  • Darth Blount 47

    This all may be true, but it justifies my reasoning for referring to them as a “Smurf-Posse.” Lol.

  • Gay was at one point one of the top slot CBs in the league, even if he wasn’t recognized for it. I’ll take a slightly bigger William Gay as our future slot CB no problem.

  • steelburg

    I 100 percent agree. But I cant see how they could even consider moving Hilton out of the slot considering how well he has played.

  • Hilton still has a ways to go in coverage so I could definitely see that becoming a situational rotation.

  • Rusted Out

    Yea, lets hope between Burns, Sutton, Hilton, and maybe Haden if healthy we can contain him. I can’t remember a game where the Steelers have managed to even limit him.