Cameron Sutton has managed to get on the field every year of his career—even as a rookie in 2017, when it missed most of the season due to injury, ending up starting a game against the New England Patriots. His playing time has ticked upward each year, having now logged over 600 defensive snaps over his first three seasons.
According to defensive coordinator Keith Butler, the fourth-year Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back will be a more active presence than he has been previously, with his prior playing time coming primarily as an injury fill-in, also earlier today seeming to allude to the team’s intention of playing more dime defense in 2020.
“That is the best attribute, that he can play multiple positions for us, and we like that out of him”, he told reporters about Sutton, who can play both inside and outside corner as well as dime and safety. “Even though he might not be a so-called starter for us, he’s gonna play a lot. He’s gonna play quite a bit”.
Though it was the only season in which he didn’t formally start a game—the one game that Steven Nelson missed in 2019, Artie Burns started—Sutton still saw a career-high 265 defensive snaps and played his best ball, registering an interception, five passes defensed, a sack, and two tackles for loss, allowing 14 receptions on 25 targets for 132 yards and no scores.
“We’re getting our dime package—he’s probably gonna be the next guy in in terms of playing our dime position”, Butler said. “That’s like another linebacker. And sometimes he’ll have to play the nickel position, which right now for us, we’re in pretty good shape there, but he is smart enough to play most all the positions in the secondary. So he’s valuable to us in that sense”.
A third-round pick out of Tennessee in 2017, he is the only player the Steeler drafted on the first two days of that class that hasn’t been to the Pro Bowl yet, the others being T.J. Watt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and James Conner. With three of them hitting free agency in March, one wonders how many will return.
Sutton has gradually but steadily improved each season, so it will be exciting to see what he is capable of contributing this year. with Mike Hilton in the slot also a pending free agent, the former could potentially shift into the nickel role in 2021 between Nelson and Joe Haden if he is retained and Hilton is not. Much of that will be decided on the field this year.