Steelers Preparing for Possible Cam Sutton Suspension

The Pittsburgh Steelers are making sure they'll be ready in case Cam Sutton has to miss games.
Jan 3, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton (20) reacts to side judge Boris Cheek (41) after being called for pass interference against the Cleveland Browns during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 26-14. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 3, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton (20) reacts to side judge Boris Cheek (41) after being called for pass interference against the Cleveland Browns during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 26-14. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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PITTSBURGH -- Cam Sutton returned to the Pittsburgh Steelers under the cloud of some serious legal issues. He was charged with domestic battery following an incident with a woman that occured earlier this offseason and, after evading law enforcement for three weeks, turned himself in, agreeing to enter a pretrial diversion program in April to resolve his case, according to the Hillsborough County records. But there might still be more consequences on the way for Sutton.

Sutton could be subject to a suspension from the NFL for violating the league's personal conduct policy. While the Steelers don't know how the process will shake out, they will be forced to prepare for life without Sutton in the event that he has to miss a significant portion of the season.

"I would imagine so, not knowing much about the off-the-field part of things and where we are, to be honest with you," Steelers secondary coach Grady Brown said when asked if he's been getting reserve players reps in anticipation of Sutton missing time. "But I think that's a reasonable expectation that I would have to have that thought and we have to have with that thought in our mind."

As of right now, Sutton looks like the top candidate to start at slot corner for the Steelers this coming season. He has talent, experience and an intimate knowledge of the defensive system after spending six seasons in Pittsburgh, something no other player on the Steelers roster can match.

But it's a tricky push and pull with Brown, who want to give guys like undrafted free agent signing Beanie Bishop and veteran additions Josiah Scott and Thomas Graham the snaps they need to be prepared for Week 1 if need be, but Sutton also needs to get his legs back underneath himself. So everyone is mixing in so the unit is prepared to plug holes, no matter how big or how long they need to hold on for.

"That's what we're doing right now by virtue of just getting guys reps," Brown said. "[Sutton] doesn't take every rep at nickel, he doesn't take ever snap at corner. We try to make sure we're repping multiple guys and evaluating them at that position."

Luckily, the Steelers had a few weeks to get their new guys acclimated and will get to do more of that when training camp opens in July. There might even be some kind of clarity handed down by the league on Sutton's situation by then.

Sutton declined to provide many details about what kind of steps are left for him in the process of resolving his case with the legal system and the NFL when he spoke to media later this week and the waters look muddy to the Steelers too. All the team knows is that Sutton is an oustanding member of the secondary when he is on the field.

"He's played a lot of ball in this system," Brown said. "And when Cam is on the field, you feel his level of communication and understanding and spacial awareness and concepts - you can feel that when he's on the field."

That is something the Steelers will sorely miss if it so happens that Sutton has to miss games and one of Brown's priorities this spring and summer is making sure his unit can account for that loss.

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Stephen Thompson

STEPHEN THOMPSON

Stephen Thompson graduated with a bachelor's degree in communications and political science from Pitt in April 2022 after spending four years as a sports writer and editor at The Pitt News, the University of Pittsburgh's independent, student-run newspaper. He primarily worked the Pitt men's basketball beat, and filled in on coverage of football, volleyball, softball, gymnastics and lacrosse, in addition to other sports as needed. His work at The Pitt News has won awards from the Pennsylvania News Media Association and Associated College Press. During the spring and summer of 2021, Stephen interned for Pittsburgh Sports Now, covering baseball in western Pennsylvania. Hailing from Washington D.C., family ties have cultivated a love of Boston's professional teams and Pitt athletics, and a fascination with sports in general.