PITTSBURGH -- The plan is for Cameron Sutton to play the outside cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2021, according to Sutton himself.
The 26-year-old will have his first opportunity to start a full season for the Steelers after signing a two-year, $9 million contract this offseason. Sutton will help replace Steven Nelson and Mike Hilton but believes he will fill the outside role this season.
"Coming out of exit meetings, going into this season, they were going to give me every opportunity to come in and play outside," Sutton said in a Zoom call Monday. "It's something that I knew I could do. It's not something I couldn't do before. Even in the midst of playing on the inside and moving around, career-wise, I've always been a stationary outside guy. That's just the product and confidence in myself and them having the confidence in me to move and still have a sense whether inside or outside. Now, those opportunities have presented themselves and I'm ready."
Sutton will play opposite of Joe Haden. Haden has secured 10 interceptions since coming to Pittsburgh in 2017. Nelson started his short career with the Steelers hot but fell off in 2020, allowing a 58% completion percentage last season.
Sutton didn't know Nelson would be released or traded when he signed with the Steelers. Still, he believed whether Nelson was here or not, he would have the chance to compete for the right cornerback job.
"I only know what was happening with my situation," Sutton said. "I was presented to have every opportunity to continue as in, and as a competitor, I'm coming in for that. Whether [Nelson] was here or not."
The fifth-year corner is open to moving around from the outside to inside this season and welcomes it as part of the team's defensive approach.
"I love that," Sutton said on moving throughout a game. "It's more opportunity to impact the game. It's just the flow of the game. Obviously, there are situations where there is a base defense out there, and I have the comfortability of playing outside. Then you have situations with sub-packages and different breakdowns or schemes based upon what we're faced with throughout the week. That creates more opportunities for guys to step in and embrace the roles for themselves too."
Sutton becomes a rare commodity for the city of Pittsburgh. The Steelers went years without signing a cornerback to a second contract before handing Sutton a two-year deal.
Those who have made it further than their first four years, however, have made an impact on the history of the Steelers. Sutton knew exactly how the history has progressed, praising his former teammate William Gay as someone who's made an impact on both the organization and the young corner.
"I came in and played with Will Gay," Sutton said, discussing Steelers who've transitioned from outside to inside cornerback. "I learned so much from him. I didn't have the opportunity to step on the field as much as I wanted to and be on the field with him. Just watching how he moves, how he carried himself in the building, and out of the building. That was uplifting to see that on a daily basis and be around those older sense of guys. Live around a position group like that. I really appreciated that from him."
Now, Sutton is focused on becoming another household name the City of Champions can embrace for years to come. He said he isn't focused on possible contract extensions in 2022 or who he needs to compete with this summer.
All he'd like to do from this point on is focus on the opportunity the Steelers have presented him with.
"It's not something new. It's not a shock to me," Sutton said on his expectations. "The standard is the standard, and I'm ready to give that."