We either will see Cameron Sutton soon, or we won’t. Aside from that being obvious, it is, more importantly, true for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The rookie cornerback has been practicing for a full week, and this will be his second week of practicing. He will only be able to practice next week before the team has to make a decision, either to activate him to the 53-man roster or to leave him on injured reserve.
They could act very soon after Joe Haden suffered a fracture of a fibulaic nature (I know that’s not a word, for the record). While initial reports have varied, and could see him only miss a few weeks, it still remains a possibility that he could be a candidate for injured reserve with the hopes that he will return in eight weeks.
Should that occur, then a logical move would be to promote Sutton to the 53-man roster, though that won’t necessarily happen. Remember, the Steelers still have five cornerbacks on the roster. They only have four safeties, and Mike Mitchell is banged up. Aditi Kinkhabwala suggested that he ‘should’ be able to play Thursday, but that’s still an unsure proposition.
So a move could be made where Haden goes on injured reserve and Sutton stays there for at least a week, as Dave Bryan mentioned last night, with Jordan Dangerfield being activated as a fourth safety for a week. After that, he would be moved back to the practice squad and Sutton signed to the roster.
Regardless of how things ultimately sort out, I think it became a lot likelier that we see Sutton this year, and a lot likelier that we actually see him possibly even get some playing time. Even just prior to this game, it seemed very possible that the team wouldn’t even remove him from injured reserve simply because there would be no role for him.
But with Haden likely missing at least a few weeks, everybody moves up a tick, likely with Coty Sensabaugh seeing at least the bulk of the snaps at left outside cornerback, but you definitely can’t discount the possibility of the use of a rotation, which could include one or both of Sutton and Brian Allen.
Of course, the third-round rookie—to differentiate him from the fifth-round rookie—has a ton of ground to cover. While it might be true that he has been in on all the meetings and on the sidelines during games, he still has to catch up on the physical aspects of the game, having only been practicing for a short period of time.
It’s quite possible that we do see seven cornerbacks on the roster, either as early as this week, or at least by late in the season. At this point, I think there are other candidates more likely for release than Allen. Among them are Justin Hunter, Daniel McCullers, and one of either Jerald Hawkins or Matt Feiler.