2017 South Side Questions: Will Cameron Sutton Play On Defense This Season?

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 play on defense at some point this season?

This is one of those questions to which we simply do not have an answer. But I also think it’s a question that a lot of people are asking right now, some of whom would actually like to see it happen. Now that rookie cornerback Cameron Sutton is back on the 53-man roster, will he have an opportunity to play on defense this year?

There is not an immediate opening for him to do so, of course. With Artie Burns starting on the right side and Coty Sensabaugh filling in for Joe Haden until he returns, the nickel and dime roles have been consistently occupied this season by Mike Hilton and William Gay, respectively, neither of whom has clearly done anything deserving of losing their role.

Head Coach Mike Tomlin tried to hedge optimism about Sutton’s activation during his press conference yesterday, basically saying that just because he’s on the roster doesn’t mean he’s going to dress. And if he does dress, he may, at best, be limited to some reps as a gunner on punt coverage or a kickoff coverage unit here and there.

Or, over time, they could decide that they want to see him get a couple of reps on defense. They have made changes before, after all. J.J. Wilcox was the top backup safety, but now that appears to have drifted back to Robert Golden. It’s not unreasonable to think Sutton getting some time as the dime back is possible.

Of course, having seven cornerbacks on the roster really makes it hard for everybody to get a helmet, and while Haden is out, Sutton will likely be fighting fellow rookie Brian Allen for a helmet each week. When he returns, perhaps neither will dress under healthy circumstances.

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