A couple of hours before Mike Tomlin's regular weekly news conference today at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, the Steelers added Cam Sutton to the 53-man roster after activating him from injured reserve and seeing him practice for 21 days. And if Marcus Gilbert's four-game suspension created a simple complementary roster move, Sutton will have no simple path onto the field for the game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night.
Sutton, the team's first pick of the third round during the 2017 NFL Draft, was placed on the injured reserve list after missing most of OTAs, training camp, and the preseason with a hamstring injury. But he impressed Tomlin during the 21-day window the Steelers had to evaluate him.
"I like what I've seen from him," said Tomlin on the day before the Thursday night game against the Tennessee Titans. "The first component of it is his health, and his health seems to be above the line. The second component is his ability to stay wired in and learn and stay up with things while he hasn't been a physical participant. And he has proven he's been on the screws in that area as well. His above-the-neck game has been acceptable. We have an option or two there, which are good things for him and for us."
Sutton left college with a Tennessee record 30 career pass breakups, and he also returned 45 punts for 657 yards (14.6 average) and three touchdowns for the Volunteers. During the limited practice time he saw at Saint Vincent College, Sutton worked as the slot cornerback, but that job currently is held by Mike Hilton, who had 34 tackles, a sack, and two interceptions through the first 10 games of the regular season.
"I'm undecided whether (Sutton) is even going to play at this juncture," said Tomlin when asked about a possible role for the rookie third-round pick. "We have some options there in terms of people we can utilize. We'll see. The work that we do in preparation will provide the clarity that we need there."
Today also was Tomlin's first session in front of the media since Gilbert's four-game suspension was announced by the NFL, and his reaction to it was what should've been expected.
"I really had no reaction (to the suspension)," said Tomlin. "It's an adjustment, and often that's the case. Sometimes you're faced with adversity, and the things you do in terms of how you respond to it define you. Thankfully for us, Chris Hubbard playing is nothing new for us. He has played a lot this year, and he's done an awesome job of upholding the standard, and so from that standpoint I'm excited for him and excited to watch him meet the standard of expectation."
TOMLIN'S INJURY UPDATE
"Joe Haden will be out again this week. The others, we'll watch. We'll watch their participation and the quality of their participation. Some of those guys didn't participate in the last game., those guys being Vance McDonald, Mike Mitchell. We'll watch them work to see if they're available this week. We got a few bumps and bruises from play. JuJu Smith-Schuster has a small hamstring injury. It may limit him during the early portion of the week. We'll be watchful and mindful of that. He's a young player, and he needs physical reps to perform and to perform at an acceptable level. We'll keep an eye on some of the other bumps and bruises that may be less significant."