The Pittsburgh Steelers and Omar Khan believe that the team has plenty of options available at their disposal for who they can work within their slot cornerback battle this upcoming summer.
Appearing on 93.7 the Fan, Khan was asked about the recent release of experienced slot cornerback Arthur Maulet, who was cut on Wednesday after two years with the team. On social media, Maulet said that he asked for his release after a dispute over contract terms, so Pittsburgh moved forward. Khan says that it was something that the team simply believed was a mutual decision that was best for both parties.
“I didn’t see the social media post,” Khan said. “It was just a thing that made sense for both sides. We felt good about the group of corners we have both inside and outside corners. It made sense for both of us at this point. He was great to have around the last couple of years and he’s actually from New Orleans, also. It was a positive experience but it made sense to move on.”
So, without Maulet in the rotation, who will be the options at slot cornerback for Pittsburgh? Well, Khan has some options in mind, including the likely favorite at this point with newly-signed free agent Chandon Sullivan being a potential option. However, there is one other name that Khan singled out — Duke Dawson.
“So that’ll all shake out, you know, I’m all for competition regardless of position,” Khan said. “But you know, Chandon Sullivan who we signed, he’s played in that role in Minnesota and Green Bay. Duke Dawson was on our practice squad last year from Florida, originally drafted in the 2nd round, but we think he has a chance to compete there. We’ll see some of these young guys this weekend, but we’re sure after Latrobe we’ll have the right guys in place.”
Dawson was a second-round pick out of Florida for the Patriots. He was signed to the Steelers’ practice squad last year and spent last season there. However, he has played all over the NFL and has been in the league for a while. As such, it seems that Sullivan and Dawson could be two players that go at it in the slot regularly during training camp. That does not mean that Pittsburgh would not look to add someone to that room.
However, someone, that has stuck out as an intriguing option there is Patrick Peterson. Peterson has never played in the slot full-time or for an extended period of time, but regardless, the team seems to have plans for him to work into the role. Mike Tomlin implied that heavily and Peterson talked about how he feels he can play right there.
“I feel like if you shoehorn someone into one role, especially when they’re a great athlete, you’re doing the athlete a disservice,” Peterson said at his introductory press conference. “I’d love to move around and do new things. I can play in the slot or do some things at safety. I’ve begged coaches to do that in the past. At this age, the game is so much slower for me. I can do all of that.”
Other options on the roster include Tre Norwood and Damontae Kazee, who both have played there before. Then, there is always the sleeper from rookie minicamp that could potentially rise up out of nowhere. That is the path that occurred when Mike Hilton burst on the scene. However, it remains to be seen just who the Steelers start on opening day and what the rotation will be at that point following the decision.