A great many of the details have yet to be ironed the Steelers are just getting started in preparation for 2021but Cam Sutton doesn't need to look at a calendar to know what's fast approaching.
"You smell football in the air," Sutton maintained after OTA No. 5 today.
Sometime between now and Sept. 12 in Buffalo, the Steelers will need to get specific about initial roles for Sutton, a fifth-year cornerback, and others in a transitioning secondary.
Cornerback Steven Nelson and nickel back Mike Hilton are among the significant departures from 2020.
Sutton, presumably, fills Nelson's spot opposite Joe Haden after Sutton was re-signed in advance of unrestricted free agency.
But what of Hilton's nickel position?
And Sutton's previous inside role in the six-defensive backs "dime" defense?
And with Sutton's role potentially expanding, will there be a player or players who'll emerge as candidates to be able to handle the variety of positions the Steelers have counted upon Sutton to play in previous seasons?
Such questions will have to be answered before the regular-season opener against the Bills, when actual footballs will be in the air.
But the Steelers have time to ease into it at present.
And even after the initial resolution of such concerns, they'll have to remain light on their feet.
"With the offseason right now a lot of things are kind of up in the air," Sutton said. "As the weeks are in itself, each week is a life in its own. Wherever the chips may fall as far as responsibility. There's obviously times throughout the game where guys are lined up in certain positions but things happen between shifts, motions, injuries, whatever you may have.
"Guys have to be able to interchange and play different roles. Knowing your responsibility, knowing what the guys around you do, that's what we preach. Being versatile, being able to compete in different spots, just take it s it is. I just come in here each and every day with my head down and the chips fall where they may."
The chips fell for Sutton in 2020.
The Steelers participate in day 5 of the 2021 Organized Team Activities at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex
He emerged from last season having made a career-high six starts, having registered a career-high eight passes defensed, having forced a career-high three fumbles, having recovered his first NFL fumble and having played a career-high 53 percent of the defensive snaps (up from a career-high 25 percent in 2019).
"Ready more than ever," Sutton announced. "As far as health and just a mental aspect, I feel better than I ever felt before. Coming off of a year where you had more snaps, more opportunities, that's just a stepping stone. Those are things to continue to build off of."
Sutton anticipates playing an impactful role in 2021 no matter where he plays.
At present, he's content continuing to prepare and continuing to smell the OTA roses.
"Just the overall excitement, just being back out with the guys, flying around, talkin' ball, talkin' that language again," Sutton said. "Everything's kind of just falling in its place as the offseason continues.
"But going into the year I'm coming for everything, that's just the grit in me. That's just the grit in this organization, in our teammates, just the hunger to bring Super Bowls back to the city of Pittsburgh."