Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers annual rookie minicamp has taken place the next main event will feature the younger players on the roster sharpening their skills against the more experienced ones starting with the OTA sessions that are set to get underway a week from today. Those OTA practices will include the Steelers newest drafted cornerbacks, Cameron Sutton and Brian Allen, likely attempting to cover wide receiver Antonio Brown at some point. As for Sutton, specifically, he’s looking forward to the iron sharpening iron experience that awaits him.
“A little bit,” Sutton said when asked how much time he’s spent on watching Brown’s tape during a rookie minicamp interview on Steelers Nation Radio. “We’re definitely going to have some good battles, some good competition.”
Second-year cornerback Artie Burns is the last drafted Steelers cornerback forced to cut his NFL teeth initially against Brown and while the early results weren’t reportedly very pretty, going against the league’s top wide receiver certainly didn’t hurt him. Even so, Burns recently admitted in an interview with Teresa Varley of steelers.com that it took him a little while before his head stopped spinning.
“When I first came in I was just standing in one spot and everything was just spinning around me real fast,” said Burns. “It felt like the whole game was spinning around. It was crazy.”
Burns eventually took over as a starter around the midpoint of his rookie season and after a bit of a rocky start in that role admitted recently that he finally settled in.
“It was probably my third or fourth start that I felt comfortable,” said Burns. “That is when I felt like this is my time. I wanted to keep going and improve myself. I was playing more relaxed. Things were slowing down for me. I was more comfortable. I trusted my technique and just going out there and playing ball and not worrying about anything. With experience and film work, it slowed down. I was able to make more plays then.”
Sutton enters the NFL with a lot more experince than Burns had as he was a four-year starter at Tenneseee. The team’s first of two third-round draft picks this year is also regarded as a highly-developed student of the game and prides himself of knowing where all his college teammates were supposed to be on the field as well as their assignments during his college career.
“That makes the game easier for you,” Sutton told the media this past weekend about his ability to understand an entire defensive scheme. “When we’re all tied to a string out there on the field, all 11 guys, you’re able to put guys in different situations to make plays as well as help yourself out.”
The Steelers are hoping that Sutton can at the very least become their starting slot/nickel defender at some point during his rookie season and so going up against Brown some throughout the remainder of the team’s offseason practices, as well as during training camp, will certainly be a real measuring stick for him.
“At the end of the day, we’re all working to one common goal and that’s winning a championship and whatever it is, whether he can help develop my game, or I can help develop his as well,” Sutton said. “We’re contstanly going to be working each and every day to make each other better and make the team around us better.”