The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate 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: Will the Steelers entertain an informal or matchup-based rotation at the nickel cornerback spot?
It seems to me that one of the most widely-discussed topics thus far during the offseason regarding the Steelers it what is going on at the cornerback position, with greater emphasis on the inside, slot role, rather than on the boundary, where the two starters already appear to be sufficiently in place in Artie Burns and Ross Cockrell.
Currently, the team would seem to have several options when it comes to lining up talent in the slot, even if the majority of it is unproven. The incumbent of 10-year veteran William Gay, but even if we assume that retains his starting spot, we have to consider matchup concerns.
It was talked about after the AFC Championship game that there were some struggles for Gay when it came to playing in man coverage. If the Steelers have a specific need at a certain point in a game to match up against a particular opponent in man coverage, or some other variation of coverage, would they give consideration toward rotating?
I would like to point out that rotating at the cornerback position is not unheard of for the Steelers, as they did it prolifically just two years ago during Cockrell’s first year with the team, as he was asked to play liberally in a mix with Antwon Blake. I’m sure there are other less significant examples to draw from.
One would think that, provided he makes the roster, the Steelers are going to want to get an opportunity to look at Senquez Golson after two years. Cameron Sutton was drafted as a man-cover corner with ball skills. Even Mike Hilton has been getting attention, and Coty Sensabaugh is a fresher-legged veteran in Gay’s mold.
So the fact of the matter is that the Steelers have options about what to do in the slot. It’s just a matter of what they are willing to do about it.