For as well as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ top two draft picks have performed this season—first-round pick T.J. Watt has four sacks and an interception, second-round pick JuJu Smith-Schuster has four touchdowns and over 400 receiving yards—not much else has yet materialized from the draft class.
While third-round pick James Conner has gotten some carries and generally done fairly well, Joshua Dobbs has been consistently inactive, Brian Allen frequently inactive, and the rest either cut or on injured reserve.
Both those players on injured reserve have maintained a steady presence. Seventh-round pick Keion Adams is a frequent sight on the Steelers’ sidelines at games, as is third-rounder Cameron Sutton. But Sutton actually is on his way back.
As we wrote about yesterday, the cornerback practiced for the first time this year, though he was eligible to do so after week six. He could possibly be activated prior to the Steelers’ next game in a couple of weeks in Indianapolis.
He said that it was “definitely a good feeling” to be back out on the field practicing, and said that he felt good physically, that he has been working a lot with the training staff and in the weight room. And that his expectations have not changed.
“The expectation is the same”, he told Teresa Varley. “My approach every day is still the same, even though I was out. I’m still coming to everything, still doing everything. Now it’s just going back out there and doing what I love to do”.
Known as a cerebral player who is able to tell every player on the field what their assignment is, he said that he has stayed locked in mentally, and that “that’s pretty much the crucial part. The physical part is always going to be the same, going out there, running routes, running around, tackling, all those things. But the mental, that’s the aspect of the game [where] the battle is won most of the time”.
“Mentally and physically”, he added, “I feel like I’m well-rounded in those two areas, where it keeps me locked in. I’m not a guy that veers off when things aren’t going well or when I’m not capable of being out there at a point in time, not being around the team and not doing what I’m supposed to do”.
Sutton has remained a part of the team in every sense, engaged in all aspects except the physical, through the past eight weeks. “I stayed in every meeting, I traveled with the team, went to every game, I know what to do”, he said. “Now it’s just going out there, getting back to the fundamentals and the basics, just doing what I love to do”.
What remains to be seen is whether or not there is role for him, and who he might replace on the roster—Allen is a likely candidate. Mike Hilton has been playing above the line in the nickel, though he could perhaps battle William Gay for the dime role.