The Pittsburgh Steelers have been using second-year cornerback Cameron Sutton as their dimeback for the past few weeks after injuries to Morgan Burnett and Nat Berhe have left them with no third safety that they are confident enough in to play that quasi-linebacker role.
Only they have only really been using him in obvious passing situations, so he hasn’t been tasked with playing more of the ‘linebacker’ responsibilities of that spot for the most part. For example, of the five plays from last Sunday I will look at below, four of them occurred on third down, while the other game in the final three minutes of the game on second and 10 with the Cincinnati Bengals looking to take the lead.
Sutton spent most of his time matched up against C.J. Uzomah, ordinarily the Bengals’ number three tight end but currently their number one, with injuries to The Two Tylers. He was able to make a couple of plays against the fourth-year tight end, as well. While he didn’t actually get a hand on this ball, as I initially believed, he was in great position inside to defend this pass. Unfortunately it officially never happened because the Steelers were offside.
He did get his hand on the ball the second time around, this pass coming on third and 10 late in the third quarter. Andy Dalton looked for his tight end deep down the seam, on a 20-yard pass, but Sutton stayed with him and watched Uzomah’s eyes to time his turn and make a play on the ball, breaking up the pass.
early in the fourth quarter, the Bengals used a bunch look to get Tyler Boyd out into the flat, where he was able to beat Sutton for a four-yard reception on third and four. Perhaps fearing a double move, Sutton was a bit slow on the break.
Uzomah also got him late in the game to convert on third and four on a separate drive. It was a very similar-looking play to the last one, only Uzomah used his size to create the separation, clearly outmatching the smaller cornerback.
Cincinnati continued to use bunches and crosses in order to set up the matchups that they favor. Late in the game, on second and 10, they can such a route combination to get Boyd on Sutton again, who hooked in front of Sutton to make a 16-yard grab in spite of the pass being thrown behind him.
Sutton has shown some potential over the course of the less than full season that he has played in total, but I think he is still lacking in confidence. We know by his history that he has the ability to make plays on the football, and he has done that some on this level, but he is still learning to trust what he sees, which will come with time. Or so one hopes.