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.