It depends on when you’re reading this, and frankly what happens in terms of announcements between the time of this article’s authorship and the time of its publishing, but as I sit here writing, it remains to be seen whether or not Pittsburgh Steelers rookie cornerback Cameron Sutton is going to make his first career start tonight against the Baltimore Ravens.
The third-round draft pick, having been activated from the injured reserve list two games ago, was called into action last week in relief of Coty Sensabaugh throughout the second half of the team’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, a come-from-behind victory in which they outscored their opponent 20-3 through the third and fourth quarters.
One could certainly debate over how much of an impact Sutton had on that decision, but it would be hard to deny that Andy Dalton and the Bengals were picking on Sensabaugh in the first half, and A.J. Green was flourishing working against him in a performance that included two touchdowns.
This week in practice, Sutton and Sensabaugh were both running with the first-team defense, and as of the time of this writing, it has not been announced who would start, and whether or not a rotation between the two would take place.
But the very fact that we could even be having this discussion is a signifier of how far the conversation surrounding Sutton has moved along, when just a few weeks ago or so many were wondering if he would even be activated from the injured reserve list because there was no room, nor need, at cornerback.
Through the first half of the season, the Steelers fielded among the best pass defenses in the league, a reputation that has taken a hit through the past four games, primarily due to their susceptibility to the big play.
They now find themselves in a position of trying to stabilize their secondary on the fly weathering the storm until they can get Joe Haden back on the field and hoping that he can pick up where he left off through the first eight games of the season.
That Sutton was even considered an option as a stabilizing piece is significant. While he has been widely praised for his football acumen, and has talked about how he has stayed engaged throughout the first half of the season while on injured reserve, the amount of time he missed on the practice field is not to be taken lightly.
The Steelers chose to turn to him rather than to William Gay, who, while in the twilight of his career, was a starting outside cornerback for the team as recently as last season. They chose him over their other rookie, Brian Allen, who had been on the roster all year and showed potential in the preseason.
And he showed on his first snap in the game why they drafted him, breaking on a sideline pass and recording a pass defensed defending Green. While his debut was not without his blemishes, the Steelers could now choose him to enter the starting lineup in a game against the Ravens.