If it were up to Cameron Sutton, he would have been active and playing on Sunday night, in all likelihood serving as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ dimeback in place of the injured Morgan Burnett. Perhaps in such situations the Los Angeles Chargers wouldn’t have found Keenan Allen so often matched up against a linebacker, but I digress.
As we talked about yesterday, the second-year cornerback had a personal matter to attend to, seeing to an ailing family member back home that, with the team’s blessing, resulted in him missing Friday’s practice and the Saturday walkthrough.
That is why he was listed as questionable to play, and with the practice time missed, the coaching staff decided not to dress him, which opened the door for rookie safety Marcus Allen, who had been practicing all week in that role, to play instead.
“Obviously from a competitive standpoint I had the expectation to come back and play”, he told reporters yesterday, “but as a team aspect guys have been getting reps all week and obviously getting the physical reps as well. So, obviously it was best to put those guys in position to make plays and go out there and do what they do and what they have been doing all week and preparing for all week”.
As we saw in the game, that proved to be an issue, as the Steelers were reluctant to move to their dime defense, and that allowed the Chargers and Philip Rivers to more easily dictate and exploit the coverage matchups that they knew favored them.
While it’s unclear what Burnett’s status will be for the week, Sutton fully expects his work week to resume as normal, and that there should be no obstacles toward his playing for the Steelers on Sunday evening in Oakland.
If Burnett remains out, then Sutton will take over the dime snaps as he has previously done this season over the course of several games leading into the bye week. He would also be the first cornerback off the bench should any of the top three on the field go down with an injury, whether that is outside or in the slot. He has already done both so far this year.
With him absent on Sunday, the Steelers were forced to bring in Artie Burns for one play on a two-point conversion attempt following a touchdown on which Joe Haden was injured from a friendly fire incident with Sean Davis. While Haden would later return to the game, Burns was beat by Antonio Gates on the play, so the damage was done. Had he been active, Sutton would have been in there instead.