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Josiah Scott Taking Steelers Slot Cornerback Opportunity in Stride

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a slot cornerback option on the roster, and the lead man is currently veteran Josiah Scott.



Steelers CB Josiah Scott
Steelers CB Josiah Scott at Steelers practice Sept. 4, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — A year ago, Josiah Scott readied himself for another year with the Philadelphia Eagles after starting four games in 2022 and playing in 16 of 17 games for the Birds. But by the end of training camp, Scott received notice that he would be cut from the team, but shortly after that, Scott landed in Pittsburgh across the state. Not long after, the Eagles would call Scott off the Steelers practice squad to their active roster after a rash of cornerback injuries.

However, the Eagles decided not to retain Scott after 2023, and the Steelers welcomed Scott back with open arms. With over 30 games of experience playing special teams and slot cornerback, Scott is by far the most experienced slot cornerback on the roster, with over 500 career snaps there. Since he entered the NFL after being drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Scott has played in the slot. It’s natural at this point.

During the first two days of training camp, Scott confirmed that he worked with the first team as the slot cornerback. There remain other options on the roster and looming ones on the outside, but Scott hopes to convince the Steelers not to look elsewhere.

“I was drafted as a slot in Jacksonville initially,” Scott said. “My role in the NFL has always been a slot. You know, I’ve flexed to other positions like safety, I’ve played dime for the Eagles. So, I’ve worn many hats, but the nickel is the most comfortable position that I’ve played since I came into the league.”

Scott is no stranger to playing downhill as a run-down player. The new part of what the Steelers ask their slot cornerbacks to do will be pass rush. That requires intricate timing, and someone like Mike Hilton and Arthur Maulet embraced this role and became stalwarts by the end of their tenures in Pittsburgh. Scott has struggled in coverage, but he boasts excellent run defense and a willingness to do the dirty work.

Considering how the Steelers have split up the slot cornerback position since Hilton’s departure into a run and pass-down nickel cornerback, Scott can carve out a role specific to him. But first, it will come down to adjusting to the new ask of blitzing off the edge.

“To me, it’s honestly the same in some ways,” Scott said. “You know, the timing is a big part of it. You can look at a quarterback’s cadence, pick up on tendencies, and find the game clock. The pass rush is new to me, but there are tricks you can use to make that a strength.”

This season is no different for Scott than any previous year. He fights for a roster spot, but the reward is much higher. After being cut a season ago, Scott did not know what the NFL would do for him in the future, but now, it could end up being another starting slot cornerback role. Heading into his fifth season, Scott is still just 25 years old, yet has the mentality of a veteran ready to earn his job.

“I’m approaching it like any other year,” Scott said. “This is a one-day-at-a-time thing. You can’t think about it too much. I’m learning something new daily, and I hope I’m showing what I can do.”

Speculation on one of the former Steelers slot cornerbacks returning will continue until someone emerges in the slot cornerback room or the team signs one of those players. The team now has Scott running point in the slot cornerback room. It’s up to him to show that he can surprise and win that job, or even just a piece of the job, after landing on the team’s practice squad a year ago. His valuable experience in the NFL should aid him in that quest.