PITTSBURGH — After playing a Swiss Army knife role in the secondary for the past few seasons, Steelers defensive back Cam Sutton is expected to works mostly on the outside in 2021, something which he has done a little bit of before, but not the majority of the time.
On Wednesday, secondary coach Teryl Austin highlighted that he knows Sutton is capable inside, but he is currently working mainly on the outside across from Joe Haden, replacing departed starter Steven Nelson.
“Right now, I know Cam can play inside, but right now he is working outside, and we are letting other guys work inside to see what we have,” Austin said. “I think that’s the proper way to do it to do so we can evaluate and give guys plenty of opportunities to learn.”
Austin, however, did not rule out the possibility of Sutton potentially shifting inside. Rather, the team is simply looking at the other options they have, and if Sutton must play in the nickel cornerback spot, they will address it later.
“If we don’t feel real comfortable with what we have, then we would address changes at that time,” Austin said. “I know for a fact that Cam would not need a lot of reps if he had to move inside and help us.”
While the young guys are battling it out, Austin wants Sutton to dive headfirst into what it takes to be a cornerback on the outside. Haden noted Wednesday that playing in the nickel is drastically different than playing on the outside, and it is one of the motivations as to why Sutton is exclusively working outside at minicamp.
“That nickel spot, everybody thinks it’s pretty easy because you’re just an inside corner,” Austin said. “But you’re basically a combination of a linebacker and a corner. You’ve got to be strong in the run and be a good blitzer, but you’ve also got to cover slot receivers like the Jarvis Landries of the world.”
For Austin, the process at this point is not getting Sutton reps inside, but figuring out who else can play on the inside.
“Moreso than leaving Cam out, it’s I have to worry about what the other guys can do and what they can learn,” Austin said. “That’s the biggest issue right now. I feel comfortable with Cam because he’s been in this system for four years.”
It certainly appears that Sutton could still have a future inside this season if Austin does not like what he sees. They are in the evaluation stage with multiple young guys like Tre Norwood, Arthur Maulet, Antoine Brooks Jr., and more. How they perform will likely signal where Sutton plays and how he will be utilized.