Steelers’ Defense Vulnerable Without Cam Sutton: ‘Exploit This Weakness’

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The Pittsburgh Steelers received devastating news on Monday: the NFL decided to suspend recently reunited cornerback Cam Sutton for eight games. This suspension stems from an incident that occurred while Sutton was a member of the Detroit Lions. Sutton had signed a three-year deal worth $33 million with the Lions, but after the season, a warrant was issued for his arrest due to an alleged domestic violence incident. Sutton eventually turned himself in, leading to his swift release by the Lions.

Sutton has a long history with the Steelers, having played the majority of his career in Pittsburgh. When the Lions released him, there was speculation that the Steelers might consider giving him a second chance. Despite his legal issues and the potential for league punishment, the Steelers took the risk and brought Sutton back. Now, with the suspension confirmed, the Steelers face significant pressure to bolster their roster to compensate for Sutton’s eight-game absence.

NFL pundit Sam Acho discussed Sutton’s suspension on NFL Live, expressing concern about the impact on the Steelers’ secondary. Acho believes this suspension places the Steelers’ defense in serious trouble for the first eight games of the season. The team will need to make strategic moves to address this critical gap and maintain their competitive edge.

“I expect every team that they play in those first eight games to try and exploit this weakness. I think about guys like Rondale Moore, who plays slot for the Atlanta Falcons. That’s Week 1,” Acho said. “He’s gonna have an opportunity to go against not Cam Sutton, but a backup. I think about even rookies, guys like Ladd McConkey who was a second-round pick to the Chargers. They play earlier in the season. These are names that you don’t know yet, but all of a sudden, if you get a chance to expose a backup or somebody who’s third-string, that’s when you get your name on the map.”

Acho highlighted several under-the-radar wide receivers who will face the Steelers during Sutton’s suspension. He believes this situation presents a prime opportunity for these players to make a name for themselves and significantly impact the games, exploiting what he perceives as a weakened Steelers secondary.

“Guys like him, Marvin Mims, Josh Downs, who had nearly 1,000 yards last year. If I’m any of those teams that play the Steelers early in the season, that’s the matchup that I’m trying to exploit.”

The absence of Sutton for an extended period is a significant blow to the Steelers organization. Currently, Pittsburgh will have to rely on their depth chart and some younger, less experienced players to fill Sutton’s role during his suspension. 

Sutton was expected to play nickelback, with Joey Porter Jr. and Donte Jackson covering the sides in the secondary. The Steelers are in good hands with Porter and Jackson. However, the nickelback position is now again a major concern.

Steelers Have 2 Familiar Options For Help In Their Secondary

The current roster lacks many players with substantial NFL experience and production outside of Porter, Jackson and Sutton. This has led many to speculate that Pittsburgh might reach out to two former cornerbacks who played for the team in 2023, Chandon Sullivan and Patrick Peterson.

Sullivan started two games for the Steelers in the 2023 season, recording one interception, 22 combined tackles, one forced fumble, and six passes defended. Peterson, while having had a long and successful NFL career, is perceived by many Steelers fans to have lost a step during the 2023 season. He switched to playing safety by year’s end.

Bringing back Peterson or Sullivan could be the Steelers’ solution to Sutton’s absence. Although the Steelers have some options, Sutton’s lengthy suspension is undoubtedly bad news for Pittsburgh. 

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