The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on 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 Cameron Sutton be activated to the 53-man roster at some point this season?
I’d like to place a caveat on this question, specifying that his being made active does not hinge on another player on the roster suffering an injury that either sends him to injured reserve or makes him an expendable cut.
Cameron Sutton, the Steelers’ first of two third-round draft picks this year, originally made the 53-man roster as one of seven cornerbacks. Well, sort of. The thing is, the Steelers didn’t really have a 53-man roster when Sutton was moved to injured reserve.
Remember, Le’Veon Bell had a roster exemption, so for a time, they had 54 players on the roster. So because of that it’s much harder to forecast whom they might be willing to part with if they were to activate a seventh cornerback.
The reality is that the team already has one cornerback in Brian Allen who is mostly a weekly inactive. He would be a, if not the, prime candidate for release if they want to put Sutton on the 53-man roster, and then they would have to expose him to waivers. They lost Al-Hajj Shabazz off waivers late in the season last year.
The Steelers started the clock on Sutton if, for nothing else, to give him the opportunity to practice in-season and prepare physically for a game, even if he doesn’t ever actually make it onto the roster in 2017. Of course, he will be in their 2018 plans.
But there is no obvious room for him at the moment. He is not going to take a starting spot over from Artie Burns or Joe Haden, and there is no reason to think he will immediately challenge Mike Hilton in the slot. William Gay’s veteran presence is an asset in his rare dime snaps.
If Sutton is not activated this year, it won’t be because he’s not healthy, or because they don’t think he can play. It will just be that they have a crowded room that has already held down the fort for half of the season. An injury could change things, but if not, there is no guarantee we see him in a uniform this year.