PITTSBURGH — The Steelers slot cornerback battle between Antoine Brooks and Arthur Maulet is arguably their most anticipated and watched battle for training camp this season.
However, just because those two are the only two names in that conversation right now does not mean that one of the two is guaranteed the job.
When speaking with the media Sunday, Teryl Austin was candid in his thoughts, including that Cam Sutton kicking back inside is always a possibility, even if they prefer one of Brooks or Maulet win the job.
“Well, we always know that Cam Sutton can play there,” Austin said. “I don’t doubt Cam. But that’s not where we want Cam right now.”
Still, the training camp practices and preseason games are mere auditions for both Maulet and Brooks. In fact, Austin is confident that if need be, the Steelers could get Sutton up to speed in only one week with a sufficient amount of reps in the slot.
“One guy usually separates himself from the other and it’ll work itself out,” Austin said. “I’m not worried about it. And I’m not worried about Cam if we have to move him back inside. He can get ready in a week’s worth of reps.”
Regardless, Austin is making sure to note that if James Pierre, who was a minicamp phenom, or anybody else stands out on the outside, their plans in the slot can change dramatically. In all, they want their best five defensive backs on the field in their Nicole package.
“We want to put our best guys on the field,” Austin said. “Now, what we’re working with is we know Cam can play nickel and we don’t know what we have in the nickel. If James Pierre or Justin Layne has a great preseason, we will get our five best defensive backs on the field.”
While the Steelers certainly want Maulet or Brooks to win the job, that is no certainty. It seems Sutton is the chess piece that will be most affected by whoever can stand out in the secondary.