Tomlin Confirms Rotation At Cornerback, Says Fort Will Play On Passing Downs

Mike Tomlin is not always the most transparent coach, especially when it comes to setting his lineups. But he’s often most candid when speaking with Bob Labriola each gameday. In today’s interview, Tomlin seemed to confirm two things. Coty Sensabaugh and Cam Sutton will rotate at LCB and L.J. Fort will see time on passing downs.

At the left corner spot, Tomlin said the Steelers will go with the “hot hand” and that both players will have a chance to prove themselves.

“So what we’ve done today is we got both guys prepared to play. We’re going to put together some schedule in the early portions of the game to allow both guys to be engaged in the game, and both guys have an opportunity to play. We’re simply going to ride with the hot hand as the game unfolds. I think that’s appropriate.”

Sensabaugh was benched after an ugly first half against the Cincinnati Bengals last Monday night. By our charting, he allowed four completions on five targets for 47 yards and two touchdowns. On the season, receivers are 7/13 for 183 yards and four touchdowns, ugly numbers across the board.

Sutton came in and played well, though not perfect, and was bailed out by a Bengals penalty when A.J. Green dusted him in the second half for a would-be touchdown. Tomlin talked about each player to Labriola.

“Coty has a body of work as a professional that makes you comfortable. Cam Sutton has played a half of professional football – although it was good, you acknowledge it was just a half of professional football. I think it’s prudent to have all of our options open. I’ve been upfront with both men. Both men are agreeable. We’ll see how the ball bounces as we start to play football within the game.”

The situation reminds me of what the team did with Mike Hilton and William Gay at the nickel spot way back in Week One. They rotated for a half and then Hilton finished out the rest of the game and obviously hasn’t given up the spot since.

Up front, Tomlin said it will take more than one guy to replace Ryan Shazier. Arthur Moats may get the start but Tomlin hinted a guy like L.J. Fort will see playtime as well.

“You’ll see Vince Williams with the green dot on first and second downs. You’ll see L.J. Fort with the green dot in some passing situations, because it’s going to be more than one man replacing Ryan Shazier and his impact on the game.”

When Fort originally came in last week, he was used as the lone inside linebacker in dime packages. By games end, Williams had taken his spot. These comments seem to hint going back to the former. Sean Spence was also signed earlier this week and Keith Butler hinted at possibly using him too.

Given the injuries and the short week, expect a heavy dose of rotation along the Steelers’ defense tonight.

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.
  • Danny Porter

    How much experience does VW have calling the plays?
    I remember a few years ago Alex saying positive things about his leadership and calling the plays during camp.

  • ThePointe

    I really hope Im wrong, but this more feels like what the team did with Ross Cockrell and Antwon Blake. That ‘competition’ went on forever and actually hurt the team.

  • ThePointe

    VW started 11 games and called the defense while Larry Foote was injured in his rookie year. He did a phenomenal job that year.

  • Uncle Rico.

    This is kinda what they did in 2013. Hope it works out better this time, cuz it was a train wreck back then. First game post-Foote they had Williams in the green dot in base and Kion Wilson in the green dot in subpacks. That didn’t last long. Gave it to Timmons after that and played a ton of dime bringing Polamalu down at mack to hold LTs hand like they’re doing with Gay now.

  • Alex Kozora

    I’m not sure how much of it he’s done but he’s wearing the dot this week. He’s a vocal guy, a fiery guy, definitely someone that room respects. I think he’ll be ok.

  • Matt Manzo

    I’m just glad Fort is gonna be part of the plan. I want to see what he’s got!

  • dany

    It’s fitting this shuffling of pieces is going on just before the patriots game

  • ryan72384

    This rotation stuff that Tomlin does drives me insane. You can’t expect anyone to get into any kind of rythm doing this. Its been a disaster everytime he rides this hot hand nonsense. A rotation at cornerback?! Lol. Please. Tomlin is a great coach and the guys love playing for him but when it comes to this stuff he falls way short and seems clueless. Pick a guy and stick with him. Coty is a below average corner. Sutton might be above average. Give him a shot to start. We already know what Coty offers. Same at MLB. Start Moats, Spence or Fort and play them. Don’t pull them on an off the field. Spence is honestly probably the best all around option for the middle and I think it was a blessing he was available but now were going to do the linebacker by committee again only this time on the middle. I have a bad feeling about the defense moving forward.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    Guess I’ll have to see how Fort is used but I don’t understand why you would keep him in instead of going Dime with guys like Golden or Gay. They will give you better coverage while also offering good tackling.

  • Uncle Rico.

    Fort will come on in dime and Williams will come off. They’ll still make their usual substitutions in dime. Hargrave and Moats/Spence will come off and Hilton and Gay will come on giving them 6 DBS needed for dime. Just in addition to that they will also swap out Williams for Fort, ILB for ILB. Apparently feeling Fort is better in coverage than Williams. Or less of a liability?

  • Phil Brenneman II

    Oh I see now, didn’t read it that way at first.

  • Steeler Nation!

    I disagree. What this is saying is, we’re not going to leave Sutton out there to die on the vine. The “rotation” will be such that Sutton doesn’t feel the immense pressure of being a starter with the North title on the line. He expects to be in and out of the lineup, but really has the opportunity to nail Sensabaugh to the bench. Which we really NEED to happen. But Cam has to prove it, and earn it. Here’s to hoping he kills it.

  • Ken Krampert

    How good would Eric Weddle look in black and gold right now? That signing would have been huge for us right now.