Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: CB Cameron Sutton
Stock Value: Up
Entering his third season, defensive back Cameron Sutton appears to be on the verge of putting it all together for himself, having impressed his coaches throughout the offseason process and in turn seeming to earn himself a role within the defense.
In the third preseason game, for example, we already saw him log a number of snaps as the dime back with the first-team defense. He appears to be earmarked for that role, and it’s possible that over the course of the season we’ll even see him play in the slot in the nickel defense, as well.
Sutton struggled to find a place in the secondary during his first two seasons, and starting his rookie year on injured reserve didn’t help him any. He was eventually promoted, however, and even got a spot start after he proved to be a better option over Coty Sensabaugh as the injury replacement for Joe Haden.
He was less successful in a starting stint the following season, and when Artie Burns was eventually demoted, it was Sensabaugh who earned the starting job instead of him. The former is now gone, but Burns is still here, as a reserve, and perhaps the two of them will compete for who will be the top backup on the outside.
In the event of an injury, presumably, Sutton is still the top backup in the slot, though it’s possible that they would move Steven Nelson from outside into the slot. Generally teams prefer not to move one player out of his position to fix a problem, thereby creating two, but it depends on what formulation they believe gives them the best lineup.
I don’t know if Sutton will ever get the opportunity to have a full-time starting job in this league, but I do know that he is going to play this season. It will start as the dime back, where he may see five to 15 plays per game, depending on circumstances, but it could evolve from there.